Once again, the United States Football League encountered the XFL, with both leagues airing games opposite each other this past weekend.
USFL 2023: Week 2 TV Ratings For The Weekend Of April 22/23
Saturday’s USFL 2023 debut on the USA network featuring the New Orleans Breakers and Houston Gamblers averaged 133,000 viewers. The 12:30 pm telecast was rated 133rd out of the top 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 adult demographic.
- Opposite the USFL at 12 noon ET Saturday on ESPN was the XFL’s Week 10 game between the St. Louis Battlehawks and Orlando Guardians. The XFL averaged 636,000 viewers and was rated 15th out of the top 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 demo.
Saturday night’s primetime USFL game on FOX, which saw the Birmingham Stallions topple the Memphis Showboats 42-2, averaged 798,000 viewers.
On Sunday, NBC’s 1 pm ET broadcast of the Pittsburgh Maulers and New Jersey Generals averaged 725,000 viewers. Last week’s USFL showing on NBC in a similar timeslot averaged 974,000 viewers.
- The XFL’s Sunday afternoon offering on ESPN between Houston and Arlington slightly overlapped for one hour with the USFL. The 3 pm game averaged 403,000 viewers.
The Sunday night Week 2 finale for the USFL saw them go head-to-head directly with the XFL on Cable television.
On FS1, the Michigan Panthers-Philadelphia Stars game averaged 211,000 viewers. The game was ranked 108th out of 150 cable broadcasts in the 18-49 demo. The XFL’s regular-season finale on ESPN2 averaged 378,000 viewers and was rated 41st in the 18-49 demo.
For Week 2, in large part due to two less than stellar performances on Cable. The USFL averaged 466,000 viewers across its four games.
USFL Week 2 TV Rating Analysis
Chances are that some may already be tired of the two spring pro football leagues being compared to one another in viewership. Don’t worry; it will all be over soon. The USFL and XFL will only share this space for two more weekends.
However, the elephant in the room can’t be ignored.
The NFL offseason has never seen anything like this. Two non-NFL pro football leagues in the United States airing games simultaneously. Both leagues have similarities and share some playing rules. But each has a different feel from one another.
It’s challenging to compare the two in the ratings battle accurately. On a couple of different fronts, on one side, the USFL is in the early stages of its season, getting its footing, while the XFL is reaching its climax. On the other hand, each league has different coverage packages. Over the air network versus cable.
The XFL won round two of this ratings battle by default. They topped the USFL head-to-head directly in cable versus cable matchups. 636k versus 133k on Saturday afternoon. ESPN vs. The USA Network. And 378k on ESPN 2 Sunday night vs. 211k on FS1. However, it was hardly a knockout in round two. More like one league winning by decision.
In week two of this spring league showdown, we got an accurate sampling of the potential divide with both leagues going head-to-head in cable broadcasts: Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.
Based on the returns from the first two weekends of this showdown. It’s clear that there has been a significant level of cannibalization for both sides. Especially when the two leagues air in opposition to each other. The USFL and XFL are both competing for a similar audience. Die-hard football fans who are open-minded about a non-NFL league.
This coming weekend, drawing interest from the football fan crowd will certainly be challenging, with the NFL Draft sure to occupy plenty of attention from Thursday through Saturday.
Setting aside the other league, Saturday night’s USFL game on FOX, which did air unopposed, did see a slight drop from last week’s 864k season debut on FOX. Competition from the NHL and the blowout nature of the game certainly were contributing factors.
It hasn’t been perfect after two weeks. And there is undoubtedly a noticeable gap from some teams in the USFL, where the bottom end has been very poor. But overall, the league’s play has been solid. The lack of energy at games due to low attendance turnout is a recurring theme from 2022 that has hindered the USFL product for some. Especially from a viewership standpoint and a genuine pro sports league feel.
Perhaps this coming weekend’s Michigan Panthers game in their home opener at Ford Field will help add some of the sizzle that has been missing from the USFL steak so far.
USFL Week 3 TV Schedule
Saturday, April 29
New Orleans at Birmingham (Birmingham), 12:30 p.m. (USA)
Memphis at Houston (Memphis), 7 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, April 30
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (Detroit), 12 p.m. (NBC)
New Jersey at Michigan (Detroit), 4 p.m. (FOX)