USFL championship game sees best ratings since league's opening weekend

The USFL's championship game on Sunday saw the Birmingham Stallions win the league's inaugural title and the best ratings since its opening weekend.

The Stallions' 33-30 win over the Philadelphia Stars peaked at more than 1.8 million viewers on Fox and was the USFL's most-watched game since it began its season in April. Per Sports Media Watch, the game averaged a 0.9 rating and 1.52 million viewers.

The game also did big numbers in Birmingham, with an 11.0 rating and 24 share.

As a whole, the league reportedly averaged 715,000 viewers in its games this season.

How good are those numbers in the long run for the USFL? It's all relative.

How the USFL's ratings compare to past leagues

Those numbers obviously pale in comparison to anything involving the NFL, which was never its intended competitor, but Sports Media Watch notes the XFL's "Million Dollar Game" averaged nearly twice as many viewers (2.91 million) on NBC in 2001. That was in 2001, however, when most of the country still watched broadcast television.

That 2.91 million number ranked dead last among primetime viewerships on the Big Four networks at the time, while the current USFL's 1.52 million ranked 46th out of 63 primetime programs last week and sixth out of 11 on Fox. The network's MLB coverage saw 1.89 million viewers, for comparison.

There aren't great comparisons for the USFL with the revived XFL in 2020 and AAF in 2019, as neither league made it to its championship game. Thirteen of 20 XFL games did reportedly average more viewers than the USFL championship, though, including 10 of 12 games on broadcast television.

We will get a much better comparison next year, when the USFL has to contend with the return of an XFL helmed by Dwayne Johnson and an agreement with Disney to air on ABC, FX and the ESPN networks. The revived league says it plans to kick off in Feb. 2023.

BIRMINGHAM, AL - JUNE 18: A general view of the USFL logo with players on the field during the game between the New Jersey Generals and the Philadelphia Stars at Legion Field on June 19, 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/USFL/Getty Images)
The USFL saw resurgent ratings, but what about next year? (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/USFL/Getty Images)