The XFL held its very first games this past weekend, for the third time, in its return from the dustbin of football history.
Unfortunately, it appears that the fans of the XFL did not return as TV ratings were significantly lower than they were during the opening weekend of XFL 2.0.
According to Sports Media Watch, “The first four XFL telecast windows declined at least 50% in viewership from the equivalent windows of the previous XFL three years ago.”
Perhaps even worse than that, XFL 3.0 had lower TV ratings during its opening weekend than USFL 2.0 and, gulp, the ill-fated Alliance of American Football (AAF).
And it wasn’t even really close.
Where the new XFL stacks up vs. prior spring football leagues: pic.twitter.com/reYzMHPkGX
— Sports Media Watch (@paulsen_smw) February 22, 2023
Dwayne Johnson’s new version of the XFL averaged 1.54 million viewers on ABC during its inaugural game on Saturday afternoon.
The second iteration of the USFL, launched last year, drew 3.07 million viewers for its first game, while the AAF had viewership of 3.25 million in 2019.
Only two of the 20 games in the prior XFL averaged a smaller audience than Seattle-D.C. — the two final games ever played on what turned out to be the final Sunday of play (767K on FS1, 833K on ESPN).
Week two of the XFL kicks off Thursday, February 23 with the St. Louis Battlehawks taking on the Seattle Sea Dragons on FX at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the USFL held its college player draft.
Offensive tackle Jarrett Horst of Michigan State was the first player selected, taken by the Michigan Panthers.
No. 1 overall 🔥
With the first overall pick of the 2023 USFL College Draft, we select OT Jarrett Horst, @bmocj77. 🐾 pic.twitter.com/HG6yKk0HYl
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) February 21, 2023
The next two picks were quarterbacks, Lindsey Scott Jr. of the University of the Incarnate Word and Chase Brice of Appalachian State (via Clemson and Duke), taken by the Pittsburgh Maulers and Houston Gamblers respectively.
That spring football league kicks its second season off on Saturday, April 15th with two games that will air on Fox.
The XFL will also hold two games on that day and will have to battle the USFL for viewers all the way through its championship game on Saturday, May 13th.