Yes. Money is a key factor, and by way of McMahon’s wallet, the XFL has a lot of it. It’s been reported that the second coming of the XFL is funded for at least three seasons. If true, it puts them in a much better position than the original and light years ahead of the AAF before kickoff. The numbers vary depending on who you ask, but we estimate the league has $500-700M in backing. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the reasons the new XFL will last longer than the original, the AAF and the USFL.
Although the deals are similar, they are also very very different. Let’s start with the similarities; simply put, the XFL will not be receiving rights fees from networks. That being said the broadcast partners will be footing the bill for the production costs. That comes out to roughly $500,000 per game.
The AAF showed potential drawing a little over 2 million viewers for its debut broadcast on CBS. Unfortunately for the league, the subsequent weeks would be aired on CBS Sports, NFL Network or via the Bleacher Report application. Luckily for the XFL, this is not an issue they will need to overcome. Every XFL game will be aired on ABC, ESPN, FOX or FS1; with the option of streaming via the networks app. In my opinion the league should be able to easily draw an average of 2 million viewers per game, if not more. The Alliance did very well with what they had, but you need to admit that the new XFL has much better visibility than its predecessor.
The Right People in the Right Places
When we look back at the original XFL, there’s a lot of things we could point out for the reason it ultimately failed. One of its major issues was having true football minds in control of the product. Although there is still speculation that Vince McMahon may step down from the WWE when the XFL kicks off, but I wouldn’t count on it. This time around McMahon has put Oliver Luck in charge, and this isn’t his first rodeo.
Luck has prior experience building a spring football league as well as building up a new sports league. After leading the Fankfurt Galaxy and the Rhein Fire as General Manager, Luck was promoted to CEO of NFL Europe. Luck held that role until 2000, during which time he oversaw the league’s rebranding as NFL Europe. This was intended to strengthen the connection between the league and its parent, the NFL.
In 2005, he was named president of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. Luck worked with the City and County to create a publicly funded downtown soccer stadium, BBVA Compass Stadium, which opened to much fanfare in March 2012. This is just just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Oliver’s skills. This is exactly the person that you need running a new sports organization, Luck along may be the sole reason that the XFL does not repeat history.
Beyond Luck, we have seen the league make a lot of significant hires; from Doug Whaley, Dean Blandino all the way to the coaches where we’ve seen Bob Stoops, June Jones and others put their faith into the league. The AAF looked impressive as well, the good news being is that we’ve seen a lot of former AAF coaches and executives transition into the XFL.
Quality and Pace of the Game
Let’s be honest, the original XFL may have been fun, but it was hardly good. The AAF proved that you could present a quality football game with non-NFL caliber players. The XFL looks to keep that model, and improve on it. We don’t know the official rule set of the new XFL just yet, but we do know that they are going for a fast paced game. Less Stall, More Ball; that’s the motto they’ve been throwing around.
Luck and McMahon have both stated, this new league will not be full of gimmicks. No nicknames on jerseys, no scramble for the ball; just traditional football, with a few twists. Rather than change the game of football, they are making tweaks to remove the non-quality plays. Basically, anything that doesn’t involve playing football, they want to minimize as much as possible. The league has stated that they are aiming for a roughly 2 1/2 hour game, 3 max with overtime.
The league held its own version of the NFL combine this summer in each of their home markets, which they dubbed the Summer Showcase. This season ticket depositors an opportunity to see what the new XFL is all about. We we’re lucky enough to attend the event in Houston and everyone in attendance that we spoke to was impressed, and in some cases surprised. We think there’s going to be a lot of people that tune into the first XFL game expecting a train wreck that will turn into long term fans. Commissioner Luck has stated we should be getting the finalized rule book late August/early September, so we’ll know soon enough.
Money = Time
Yes, we said that the answer wasn’t just money. But, it does have a lot to do with it still. Vince McMahon doesn’t like to fail, and he wouldn’t try the XFL again if he thought it would fail. He has already invested roughly $750,000,000 into the new league; which, is no chump change. When we look back at the AAF, the WFL and even the USFL their major undoing was capitol. Due to the fact that the leagues owns all of the teams, none of the teams will fold if the league stays afloat.
The other important thing that capitol brings, is time. Due to McMahon’s investments the XFL has had the time to do things right this time around. The AAF rushed to get on the field to beat the XFL to market, and it resulted in them folding prior to the seasons end. There was some hope when Tom Dundon saved the league after the second week, but because of that he had complete control to shutter the doors. The XFL doesn’t need to worry about that. From past interviews it seems that the new XFL is funded for at minimum three seasons. We think that gives this new league a fighting change, especially when you add in the broadcast partners.
At the time of publication we’re just 195 days away from kick off. The first game airs on ABC at 2pm EST on Feb 8, 2020; with a second game being aired on Fox later that afternoon. You can feel the excitement building from the fans. Team names/logos are coming, then we head into the draft and kickoff will be here before you know it.