For the first time since 2001, the XFL was able to complete a regular season and playoffs and award a title to the championship team. While this could easily be filed in a cabinet labeled “the least you could do,” the accomplishment is significant for the future of the XFL and spring football as a whole.
Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has stated that the XFL suffered losses that exceeded $60 million this year. Considering the purchase price was $23.5 million in 2020, this negation would normally cripple any first-year operation.
Johnson and company remain hopeful, however, thanks to television contracts that are about to become more lucrative next season. Online XFL betting sites have also kept the league on people’s minds, but not to a level that can keep it afloat.
The XFL averaged just over 600,000 viewers per game during the 2023 regular season. The XFL Championship Game fared north of 1.3 million viewers. These are solid numbers to build upon but represent ratings that cannot be repeated in 2024 or beyond.
In 2020, the XFL drew in a million fans or more for most regular season games before the league folded up after five weeks of play. On the surface, Johnson’s fame would seem to be a natural fit for leading the league into the next generation.
Following this year’s woeful ratings, is the XFL missing something by not having Vince McMahon at the helm? Johnson may be one of the hottest box office attractions going today, but does he have a reputation for generating intriguing and entertaining products over the course of several decades?
The answer, of course, is no. Where Johnson benefits the XFL is his extensive knowledge of the game of football. McMahon may have been good for an initial pop, but clearly, he had no real long-term commitment to professional football of any kind.
That’s not the case with Johnson, and investors and television networks are aware.
How Does The USFL Impact The XFL’s Future?
With the USFL now entering their championship game for the second year in a row, there’s no denying their presence has muddied the playing field for the XFL and spring football in general.
There’s no real brand confusion when it comes to the XFL vs. the USFL. Fans are aware that there are two different spring football leagues operating simultaneously. Despite ample television coverage on major networks for both the XFL and USFL, viewership has been lagging in 2023.
Neither league is satisfied with its current status among pro football audiences, and neither is prepared to continue at this level of success. Perhaps in order for one of them to make it, one of them has to fail.
Should the XFL and USFL consider a merger? It isn’t a bad idea, and it would go a long way toward solving both the USFL and XFL playoffs format issues that are currently allowing teams with losing records into the postseason.