If the second version of the XFL lasts one full season, it will beat the Alliance of American Football. If it lasts more than one season, the XFL will outlast its first iteration, which played one season and that was it.
And if XFL 2.0 lasts more than three seasons, it will be the most successful competitor to the NFL since the American Football League more than 50 years ago. The bar is not high for startup football leagues in the United States.
The first weekend followed a familiar script. There were reports about strong ratings. There was positive energy. It was good to see football after the Super Bowl is done.
And here’s something else that’s familiar: We wait to see if the second week and beyond can be successful.
Ratings, attendance pretty good for XFL
One thing that stood out about the XFL’s first weekend was that all four games were on major networks. There were two games on Fox, and one each on ESPN and ABC.
And early ratings returns were good, but that’s no surprise. Every new football league has a lot of eyeballs on the opening weekend. There’s a curiosity factor and people don’t want football to end. All four XFL games had an announced attendance between 17,000-18,000, which is fine.
For some reference on the XFL’s ratings, the AAF got 2.9 million viewers for its first game on CBS and that was considered a huge win.
Being on the major networks is huge. In Week 2, two games will be on ABC, one will be on ESPN and the final one is on Fox Sports 1. It adds legitimacy to the league.
Week 1 was a good start. Now can the league build on that foundation?
XFL has a solid beginning
The XFL promised an up-tempo, fun and fan-friendly league. There were a lot of passes, which is good, but it probably fell a little short of the high-flying league that executives were hoping for. It was also the first game together for all these players, and presumably it will get better.
The XFL didn’t have great games in Week 1, though that isn’t entirely in their control. The Saturday games were reasonably competitive, and the Sunday games lagged a bit. St. Louis’ 15-9 win over Dallas on Sunday won’t go in a time capsule.
But it was football. And considering the next NFL game that counts isn’t until Sept. 10, that was enough for many people.
The XFL will have to produce good football. They’ll need to create some stars, especially at quarterback (Cardale Jones perhaps?), because big names are necessary for all sports. And there can’t be any behind-the-scenes business or financial catastrophes brewing, which doomed the AAF.
But it was a good start for the new XFL. That was the easy part.
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