First XFL Games Average More Than 3.1 Million Viewers Across Fox, ABC and ESPN

Take 2.0 of Vince McMahon’s NFL alternative impresses in debut

Last Updated: February 12, 2020 @ 10:31 AM

The return of the XFL was a successful one in terms of both reception and ratings. The first games excited the social media and football communities.

Those of us who analyze Nielsen numbers also came away pretty impressed.

On Saturday, Fox’s Houston-Los Angeles and ABC’s D.C.-Seattle games both averaged 3.3 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. The next day, Fox’s Tampa Bay-New York matchup drew 3.4 million viewers, the most of the weekend. Disney’s Sunday game, which aired on cable cannel ESPN instead of ABC, is what really dragged down the weekend’s average, with *just* 2.9 million viewers.

Using unrounded figures, Week 1 of the XFL averaged 3,118,250 total viewers per game. Those aren’t NFL numbers, but it ain’t nothing.

By the way, don’t feel *too* sorry for ABC here — the broadcast network aired the Oscars on Sunday. Unfortunately, those Nielsen numbers, while much higher than the XFL ones, were a big disappointment in their own right.

The XFL 2.0 consists of eight teams. Picking up Week 1 wins were the Houston Roughnecks, D.C. Defenders, N.Y. Guardians and the St. Louis Battlehawks. On the losing end of those games, respectively, were the L.A. Wildcats, Seattle Dragons, Tampa Bay Vipers and the Dallas Renegades.

ESPN is being left out of the Week 2 schedule, which some may consider wise scheduling and others may point to as basic availability. Sister network ABC will air the New York Guardians vs. D.C. Defenders at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, as well as the Dallas Renegades vs. L.A. Wildcats on Sunday starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Fox’s FS1 is trying the cable thing out this Sunday with the St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Houston Roughnecks 6 p.m. ET. FS1 has less national distribution and much smaller brand awareness than ESPN does. A day earlier, Fox broadcast channel will carry the Tampa Bay Vipers vs. Seattle Dragons at 5 p.m. ET.

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