As ratings go, the USFL is the quintessential spring football league. It came in like a lion, and it’s going out like a lamb.
The two playoff games, televised on three-letter broadcast TV, generated an average of 957,000 viewers for the afternoon game on Fox and 998,000 viewers for the evening game on NBC.
The first game of the season, played on a Saturday night in April, generated a combined 3.07 million on Fox and NBC.
Although the two semifinals games were played in late June, the failure to crack seven figures fairly can be called a disappointment. And while the games surely performed well in comparison to other sports properties televised over the past weekend, the USFL games received placement on major networks.
The true value in the USFL comes from the difference between the ratings on FOX and/or NBC with spring football and the ratings from whatever was televised in the same window on the same weekend a year ago. Although people don’t consume traditional over-the-air networks like they once did, major networks can count on a basic number of viewers — no matter what they televise.
The USFL has done well enough to return for another season. How many more seasons will it get? That’s a decision that likely will be made one season at a time.
Meanwhile, it would be helpful if the USFL could get at least a million to watch Sunday night’s championship game on Fox.