The TV Ratings from USFL Action on FOX/NBC Sports are in for Week 9. The USFL’s four games on NBC, FOX, FS1 and the USA Network averaged 574,000 viewers. In Week 8, the league averaged 535,000 viewers.
USFL Week 9 TV Ratings (Courtesy Nielsen Media Research)
- Week 9 kicked off on NBC Saturday at 1 pm ET with the New Jersey Generals and Michigan Panthers. The game averaged 815,000 viewers. The previous Saturday afternoon USFL telecast on NBC back in Week 6 averaged 785,000 viewers.
- The second USFL game of the weekend on the USA Network at 6 pm ET between the Birmingham Stallions and Houston Gamblers averaged 350,000 viewers. The telecast produced better viewership numbers than Week 8’s Friday output of 208,000 viewers, which was the second least viewed game of the USFL season. Saturday’s prime-time USA game was ranked 29th in Cable out of the top 150 shows. The game scored a 0.09 in the 18-49 demo.
- Sunday’s FOX telecast at 4 pm ET saw the New Orleans Breakers best the Tampa Bay Bandits to secure the final playoff spot in the South. The game averaged 742,000 viewers. Week 8’s FOX broadcast of the Philadelphia Stars and Michigan Panthers on Sunday afternoon averaged 773,000 viewers.
- The final USFL game of Week 9 on FS1 Sunday at 7:30 pm ET between the Pittsburgh Maulers and Philadelphia Stars averaged 389,000 viewers. The game was ranked 47th out of 150 cable telecasts in the 18-49 demo, scoring a 0.08. Two weeks ago, the USFL averaged 268,000 viewers on FS1 during an afternoon timeslot.
Through the first nine weeks of the USFL season, 32 of the league’s 36 games have aired on measured broadcast channels. The other four have aired on the Peacock streaming service. Here is the up-to-season average viewership for each network.
- FOX- (12 games): 906k
- NBC-(8 games): 1.13 million
- FS1- (6 games): 302k
- USA- (6 games): 368k
Quick analysis: The USFL is averaging 676,000 viewers per game in the 2022 season. The viewership numbers are lower than anticipated. In a vacuum, if you compare the USFL as a first-year league versus established entities in the sports ratings landscape, then the numbers are passable under that criteria. The USFL debuted with very strong numbers in week 1 and then bottomed out immediately the next week, rather than over time, setting a lower baseline.
It will be interesting to see if there is an uptick during the league’s playoff games on network television. Typically, by default, the numbers should rise because of the significance attached to them. Even the 2001 XFL, which was dead in the water, saw viewership go up in their league’s championship game.
The USFL will see a second season. The bare bones financial model has guaranteed that. But it’s clear that the Hub model with very few fans in the stands has not made for an enticing TV product. And it’s affected the buzz surrounding the league and its viewership. The league doesn’t look like a happening.
The games lack crowd energy and have no atmosphere. It’s not an enticing watch for the mainstream sports fan or the casual viewer. The USFL can survive financially if they stay in Birmingham with all eight of their teams. But at some point, to thrive, and become a fully-fledged pro sports league, they need to move into individual city markets. In theory, it would help create buzz and more attention for the teams that are currently not playing in their cities.
For bookkeeping and context on the USFL viewership numbers throughout this entire season. Here are the USFL TV ratings from the first eight weeks as a reference point. * Figures courtesy of Nielsen Media Research.
USFL Week 1 TV Ratings
- Saturday, Apr. 16: NJ Generals vs. Birmingham Stallions (FOX): 1.757 million viewers, 0.56 rating/(NBC): 1.310 million viewers, 0.42 rating
- Sunday, Apr. 17: Houston Gamblers vs. Michigan Panthers (NBC): 2.153 million viewers, 0.69 rating
- Sunday, Apr. 17: Philadelphia Stars vs. New Orleans Breakers (USA): 771,000 viewers, 0.25 overall rating, 0.11 in the 18-49 adult demo.
- Monday, Apr. 18: Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh (FS1): 268,000 viewers, 0.09 overall rating, 00.6 in the 18-49 demo.
USFL Week 2 Ratings
- Friday, Apr. 22: NJ vs. Michigan (USA): 363,000 viewers, 0.12 rating, 0.07 18-49 demo, ranked 72nd out of top 150 cable telecasts.
- Saturday, Apr. 23: Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh (FOX): 1.056 million viewers, 0.34 rating
- Saturday, Apr. 23: Birmingham vs. Houston (FS1): 402,000 viewers, 0.13 rating (172-minute duration),
- Saturday, Apr. 23: Birmingham vs. Houston (FS2): 88,000 viewers, 0.03 rating (36-minute duration)
- Sunday, Apr. 24: New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay (NBC): 757,000 viewers, 0.24 rating
USFL Week 3 TV Ratings
- Saturday, April 30: Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Houston Gamblers (FOX) averaged 825,000 viewers.
- Saturday, April 30: Birmingham Stallions vs. New Orleans Breakers (FOX) averaged 1.144 million viewers.
- Sunday, May 1st: Michigan Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Maulers (USA) averaged 292,000 viewers.
USFL Week 4 TV Ratings
- Friday, May 6: Philadelphia Stars vs. Michigan Panthers (FS1): averaged 207,000 viewers, 0.07 rating
- Saturday, May 7: Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Birmingham Stallions (FOX): averaged 1.051 million viewers, 0.34 rating
- Sunday, May 8: Houston Gamblers vs. New Orleans Breakers (NBC): averaged 1.159 million viewers, 0.37 rating
USFL Week 5 TV Ratings
- Friday, May 13: Michigan Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Bandits (USA): averaged 250,000 viewers.
- Saturday, May 14: New Jersey Generals vs. New Orleans Breakers (FOX): averaged 724,000 viewers.
- Sunday, May 15: Birmingham Stallions vs. Philadelphia Stars (NBC): averaged 905,000 viewers
- Sunday, May 15: Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Houston Gamblers (FOX): averaged 692,000 viewers
USFL Week 6 TV Ratings
- May 21: Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia (NBC): 785,000 viewers, 0.25 rating
May 21: Michigan vs. Birmingham (NBC): 1.196 million viewers, 0.38 rating (NBC’s final number for the Michigan-Birmingham USFL game — was down considerably from a Bruins-Capitals NHL playoff game in the same window in 2021 (2.28M*).
- May 22: Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans (FS1): 281,000 viewers, 0.09 rating
May 22: Houston vs. New Jersey (FOX): 665,000 viewers, 0.21 rating
USFL Week 7 TV Ratings
- May 28 – NJ Generals vs. Tampa Bay Bandits, USA: 228k, 0.07 rating
- May 28 – New Orleans Breakers vs. Michigan Panthers, FS1: 267k, 0.09 rating
- May 29 – Birmingham Stallions vs. Pittsburgh Maulers, FOX: 830k, 0.27 rating
USFL Week 8 TV Ratings
- June 3: NJ Generals vs. Pittsburgh Maulers, USA: 208k
- June 4: Birmingham Stallions vs. New Orleans Breakers, FOX: 625k
- June 5: Philadelphia Stars vs. Michigan Panthers, FOX, 773k
USFL Week 10 TV Schedule
The final week of the 2022 USFL season will see all four games take place at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. Only three games will remain in the USFL season after week ten is concluded. Two semifinal playoff games on Saturday, June 25th. And the league’s championship game on Sunday, July 3rd.
In Week 10, The Philadelphia Stars and New Jersey Generals kick off the closing week of the regular season Saturday at Noon ET on the USA Network. The two teams will meet again in the playoffs in Canton, Ohio, a week later on FOX.
The Birmingham Stallions will close out their regular season against the Tampa Bay Bandits Saturday at 4 pm ET on FOX. Before playing a prime-time playoff game the following week on NBC.
The Sunday slate of games features two one-win teams squaring off on the USA Network at Noon ET when the Pittsburgh Maulers and Michigan Panthers put an end to their trying seasons.
The playoff-bound New Orleans Breakers and the Houston Gamblers play the regular-season finale Sunday at 8:30 pm ET on FS1.