AAF looks to fill TV and fantasy football void

Alliance of American Football

For years, the NFL season has ended abruptly and suddenly, forcing football fans to wait for more of the game they love until September. Charlie Ebersol, the son of legendary TV executive Dick Ebersol, realized the untapped potential that could flow from having more football.

And that led directly to the birth of the Alliance of American Football, a new league that will debut one week after the next Super Bowl.

Charlie Ebersol recently appeared on #PFTPM to discuss the new league at length. We started in the most obvious spot: How did this all get started?

“About two and a half years ago I was reading, because I’m a nerd and I was reading ratings,” Ebersol said. “And I called my dad and I said, ‘Is it possible that I’m reading this right that there are 78 million to 80 million fewer people watching sports starting the weekend after the Super Bowl for six months?’ And he said, ‘No you’re reading the exactly right.’

“We started going back and forth on it. There were two major numbers that I couldn’t believe. One was about 80 million people stopped watching sports on the weekend when football goes off the air. That’s one. The second one though that was even more intriguing to me was a minimum of 20 million people stop playing all forms of fantasy sports the day football goes off the air. And so I started saying any other business where you would have six months where the most dominant thing in the field — and football is so much more dominant than any other sport, it’s beyond compare — stopped existing any other business somebody would’ve come in and done something. Why hasn’t this worked before? I spent a lot of time just researching. . . . That research starting leading to nobody had ever put real football on the field . . . or certainly not in the last 25 or 30 years. Nobody had put real football on.”

So the AAF will be real football, coupled with what Ebersol called a “better version of fantasy” football.

“No longer passive but interactive,” Ebersol said. “We’ve built something up here in San Francisco that I think is a game changer.”

This game changer won’t be a threat to the NFL.

“It’s a positive relationship,” Ebersol said. “One of the reasons that we made the contract the way we do for the players where they have an out to go to back to the NFL is because we recognize the fact just like the MLS recognizes the fact that the Premier League is ultimately gonna pay players more and put them on a bigger stage than the MLS will. They support that. We support the same concepts. I think that it’s a foolish to try to pick a fight with a $150 billion business when you’re starting up and when you’re also not competing. I mean none of my content touches any of their content. Ultimately, it’s a complementary, positive relationship.”

On the topic of players leaving for the NFL, it remains to be seen whether players would be allowed to leave during the AAF season.

“That’s something that obviously there’s been a lot of conversation around,” Ebersol said, adding that a decision on that topic will be made later in the year.

Plenty of other decisions will need to be made as the debut of the AAF approaches. But with fantasy football and the looming spread of legalized gambling, the time could be right to give football fans more football.

21 responses to “AAF looks to fill TV and fantasy football void

  1. Clearly a market niche exists. As ncphinsfan pointed out, priority one has to be a network deal. The only way they get that is to guarantee a quality product on the field. That will take serious investment dollars.

    This league, if adequately funded, could be a big success. The XFL on the other hand has failure written all over it. It’s more hype than anything else.

  2. I think a serious portion of those 80 million that quit watchings sports after the Super Bowl want a break from watching sports. I know I personally am happy to have my weekends totally free for a few months when football season ends.

  3. He should of done more research on why all the other leagues failed.

    Starting the week after Superbowl is a fail. Most fans are burned out of football and families are getting ready to reunite on Sundays. Should of waited until start of spring. Let us miss football a little.

  4. If they make it a farm league for the NFL it will help the NFL. It sounds like that is what they want to be without coming right out and saying that.

    If succesful the AAF could hurt college football as college football is now the only NFL farm system.

    If they put a team in Wisconsin I would probably follow the league. Like any sport you only follow it with passion if you have a dog in the fight.

  5. The AAF has already made a TV deal with CBS. An opening day game and the championship game will be on CBS and other games (or at least featured other games) will be on CBS Sports Network.

    Games will mostly be on Saturdays and the season will end at the end of April. I’ve always wished that football would start in October instead of September, and end with the Super Bowl at the beginning of March. The weather is way too nice in September to be hanging around indoors watching football. But February and March are great times to watch.

    There are seven of the eight franchises already awarded: Birmingham AL, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Memphis, Atlanta. St. Louis is in the mix for the eighth franchise.

    I’m excited about the AAF. I hope they’re successful, if only because some of their features might influence the NFL. The AAF will have no TV timeouts, they say they will have less than half the usual number of commercials, the play clock will be 30 seconds, and a complete game telecast will be about 2-1/2 hours. After a TD there is no extra point; the team has to go for two.

  6. Also no kickoffs in AAF. The NFL will be watching if this is successful in the AAF.

    I hope what I’m hearing is true that the NFL is not looking to phase out kickoffs. However, the new rules lead me to believe they are doing just that

    Another thing I like about the AAF is that they will NOT be allowing players into the league directly out of high school. If this league becomes successful and did ever allow players to come into league out of high school this could have a major negative impact on college football. Imagine top college recruits being swayed to bypass college for a large paycheck.

  7. The AAF has quite of bit of funding to carry it for a few years They also have a contract with CBS. The opening game and the Championship game will be on CBS. The other games will be on CBSSN They may also get another network partner . Other games will be streamed. I always thought that if leagues continue to pop up’ eventually one is going to make it. The AAF appears to be the one most likely. Remember it took 45 years after the NFL was founded for another league to be successful. Now it’s been 55 years, lets give it a chance.

  8. It would be very easy to create a league the compliments and eventually competes with the NFL if you had the money to do so. The problem is finding the billions of dollars it would take to do so.

  9. tjacks7 says:
    It would be very easy to create a league the compliments and eventually competes with the NFL if you had the money to do so. The problem is finding the billions of dollars it would take to do so.
    ===

    I get what you’re saying, and I agree with you.
    Still, I laughed when you said “it would be easy,” followed by “the problem is finding the billions of dollars it would take to do so.”
    It reminds me of an old Steve Martin gag from the early days of SNL:
    “You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You say.. “Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?” First.. get a million dollars.”
    In either case, easier said than done. 🙂

  10. THE OCHO I hear is bidding on game broadcasts.

    All kidding aside – I will definitely tune in and see what it’s all about. If it’s legit…think it could definitely work.

    The NBA has truly set the bar high with their model of the G League relationship. NFL really needs to take note, at player development.

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