The second incarnation of the XFL is coming in less than a year, and on Monday the league announced that its games will be aired on multiple networks, both over-the-air and on cable.
They are multi-year agreements, which would seem to bode well for the upstart league.
Over half of games will be on broadcast TV
The XFL announced that it has agreements with ESPN and Fox Sports. There will be weekly games on ABC and Fox, as well as games on ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal wrote that over half of the games in the 2020 season - 24 of 43 - will be on broadcast TV, which the XFL believes is important if they league is to thrive and exist beyond one season, as happened in its first go-round.
Thirteen games will air on ABC, and 11 on Fox.
While ESPN and Fox Sports aren’t paying a rights fee to the XFL, Ourand reports that the companies are covering the production costs, which is about $400,000 per game.
The networks will sell advertising around the games, and cross-promote upcoming contests.
“One of the key drivers of a successful professional league is broad exposure and appointment television, and we’ve got that,” Alan Gold of CAA told Ourand.
— XFL (@xfl2020) May 6, 2019
XFL spring Saturdays = NFL Sundays?
ESPN and Fox are giving the XFL an NFL-type treatment: just as the NFL has its 1 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. ET windows on fall Sundays, for seven of eight Saturdays beginning February 8, XFL games will air at 2 p.m. on ABC and 5 p.m. on Fox.
“We wanted to make sure there was consistency and broad reach to start because this is a new venture,” ESPN vice president of programming and scheduling Burke Magnus said. “This is not an established sports property.”
There will also be games on Sundays, though the times and broadcasting networks vary.
Fox will have two Thursday night prime-time games in early April.
The XFL championship game will be on Sunday, April 26, and broadcast on ESPN.
“Spring football is going to work,” Magnus said. “The combination of Vince McMahon, WWE, Fox and Disney [the parent company of ESPN and ABC] is an incredible one to take a really hard run at this and see if that’s not the combination that finally makes it work.”
Lessons learned from AAF’s failure
But those involved believe in the league.
“The league to partner with is the league that has financing. The XFL has a business plan,” Fox Sports president of national networks Mark Silverman said. “It is in it for the long haul. We did our diligence. We made sure this entity is in it for the long run. The business plan is in order. We know the key leadership from our WWE deal.”
There will be announcements in the future on the talent that will be in the booths for the games.
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