Three Of The Four XFL Games Drew Higher TV Ratings Than Any NBA Or College Basketball Game Last Week

As the Hollywood Reporter put it, the XFL started off their 2020 season with decent ratings. 

The football league delivered some of the biggest audiences for sports programming on Feb. 8 and 9, with three of its four games outdrawing every NBA and college basketball telecast in the previous week. The numbers are a far cry from what the NFL brings in — and from the opening game of the previous XFL incarnation 19 years ago — but put the league on steady footing at the outset.

The four games — two on Fox, one on ABC and one on ESPN — averaged 3.12 million viewers and a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49. Those ratings are in line with the inaugural primetime game for the Alliance of American Football on CBS last year (3.25 million viewers, 0.9 in adults 18-49). Fox's Sunday-afternoon game had the biggest audience with 3.39 million viewers, while ESPN's Sunday telecast was the smallest of the four with just under 2.5 million viewers.

That's an obvious win for the XFL. The biggest deal in my mind was the continued success throughout the weekend, not just the 1st game. The AAF had a phenomenal debut, but fell off the next day. The XFL didn't

SOURCE-Saturday’s Seattle-DC XFL season debut averaged a 2.1 rating and 3.30 million viewers on ABC, edging last year’s primetime Alliance of American Football opener on CBS (1.9, 3.25M), if no match for the original XFL opener on NBC in 2001 (9.5, 15.7M).

In stark contrast to the AAF and the original XFL, the debut audience was not the high water mark. It was surpassed a day later by the Tampa Bay-New York game on FOX, which averaged a 2.1 and 3.39 million — the largest audience for a non-NFL pro football game since Week 6 of the original XFL (3.67M).

The big question will be whether or not people are watching in week 6 (March 14th), when everyone is tuned into March Madness. 

In a smart move, Week 9, which overlaps with the Final Four, will feature a Thursday night game and only one game on Final Four Saturday. 

If I were the head of the XFL, I would've put week 7 on Monday and Tuesday, instead of having it go up against the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. The same goes for Week 8. You could have a showcase of sorts during weeks 7 and 8, but now we'll forget about the XFL for 2 weeks during March Madness.

At least they were smart enough to not put their playoffs or championship game on Masters Sunday. 

I'm still in on the XFL. I think it can succeed. It'll never be a massive league, but it can be something that we all gamble on during the late winter and early spring.