With ratings still low, ABC/ESPN shuffle XFL 3.0 games to bigger platforms

St Louis Battlehawks v DC Defenders
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The third iteration of the XFL isn’t drawing viewers the way the first two did. And so, in an effort to boost ratings, three upcoming games have been moved to higher-profile networks.

On Tuesday, the XFL and ESPN announced that the Thursday, March 16 game between Houston and Seattle has been moved from FX to ESPN. The game is scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. ET. Also, the Sunday, March 25 game between Seattle and Orlando has been shifted from ESPN to ABC. And the Monday, March 27 game between Houston and D.C. has migrated from FX to ESPN2.

The changes came after a third disappointing week for the XFL. Via SportsMediaWatch.com, the Week Three games averaged 571,000 viewers on FX and ESPN2. That’s a 13-percent drop from the Week Two games on FX, ESPN, and ESPN2.

The Sunday game between St. Louis and D.C. led the way for the weekend, with 665,000 average viewers on FX.

The numbers aren’t horrible, when viewed in isolation. However, XFL 3.0 is down sharply from XFL 2.0. It will be interesting to see whether that improves, and whether the second year of USFL 2.0 matches what it did last year.

28 responses to “With ratings still low, ABC/ESPN shuffle XFL 3.0 games to bigger platforms

  1. It’s been a few months since I got out for a round of golf. I care about better weather, not the XFL.

  2. That I read this news here rather than seeing it on a commercial on ESPN’s morning shows tells me it probably won’t be seeing a big bump in audience.

  3. Ratings compared to NFL are not even close. Compared to a sport like Hockey, I’m sure it’s winning.

  4. This is so silly – I’m no tv exec but it seems to me they should have set times and channels for the games and then promote accordingly. Also, why not do a dedicated Monday night game on ESPN? That is a set prime time and I would bet, many would tune in to check it out because Monday nights without football are el stinko grande. So you promote that one big slot (along with creating certainty on the other games – whether those are Sat or Sunday).

    It is a new product, the broadcasts are a little helter skelter cause they are trying to do too much to differentiate it from NFL.

    Simplify the broadcast and create certainty of time slot – then build from there.

  5. How did they expect the ratings to be good on FX and ESPN2? I wanted to watch the last 2 weekends, but I cancelled cable 2 years ago and installed an antenna.

  6. The only way these leagues are going to succeed is to be tiered the way rugby is. In effect become feeder leagues to the NFL not for players but for whole teams.

    It works this way. You have an 8 team leagues, call them the “Championship” League. They play at the same time of year the NFL does (maybe Thursday and Friday nights) and the same schedule. Their Championship game is played the Sunday before the Superbowl. Those two teams move up to the NFL for the next season.

    The 2 teams with the worst record in the NFL move down to the feeder leagues.

    It won’t happen for 2 very good reasons (1) the billionaires who own the current 32 teams don’t want to take a chance that their team is the one relegated (which means they lose money) and (2) There REALLY isn’t enough NFL caliber talent to field another 8 pro-teams at or near NFL level.

    But until you somehow link the next tier of “pro” football to the NFL these leagues just aren’t going to be financially successful. There isn’t much demand at all for professional non-NFL football.

  7. I’d like to see it succeed and give young guys a chance to play and develop and a place for players and coaches to get a 2nd chance. But the XFL needs to get some star power and big names. Obviously they cannot get the big names currently playing in the NFL but go after guys like Tim Tebow, Colin Karpernick, Johnny Manziel, Terrell Owens and get some coaches like Rex Ryan hype it up and get some personality.

    Also another thing that might help is a realty show on it where teams have open try outs like in that movie Invincible and get everyday people try out on these teams it would work like American Idol but for football. The early episodes would see fat and out of shape guys struggling and getting jacked up which would be hilarious and the later episodes would draw in drama and we would follow and root for these guys to make a professional football team.

  8. Switching channels isn’t going to make people watch bad football that no one wants to watch. Bring back He Hate Me. He’s the only one who can save them.

  9. I have been following the XFL casually this year and I must say the games have become much more competitive since the first week holding my attention and interest.

  10. It’s truly insane how every single new league comes out expecting impressive TV ratings from Day 1. Nobody knows anything about the teams, there aren’t many recognizable names to make them tune in, the NFL season just finished up so people aren’t really football-starved…. There is zero reason to expect tons of people to be watching these games. The path to success would be the Minor League Baseball concept where you make it a great spectator event for the entire family. Then once you get some good word-of-mouth and attendance figures start looking impressive THEN people may start watching it on TV.

  11. The XFL is obviously a step down from the NFL, but so far I think the majority of games have been compelling and I like some of the different rules they have, like the way the kickoff is handled and the different PAT options.

  12. I havent had cable TV in years and the XFL is not going to draw me back. I watch all my NFL games on NFL+ app, and make time for it. Like another poster said, this is the time of year I am looking to get outside, not watch AAA football

  13. I don’t know why people are snobs about the XFL. The quality of the games is better than most if not all college football games. I’ve been enjoying watching, but then, I actually like football.

  14. I would watch. But they put on a pay networks. I’m a cord cutter. Wasn’t going to pay to watch division 2 pro football. I’ll check it out now.

  15. They do seem to make the games impossible to watch, and then the viewership shows that. They are on weird channels at weird times. After 5 months of the NFL, there are a lot of things I have to catch up on on my weekends. I’d like to watch the XFL games, but its hard. Plus NASCAR just started and a lot of people are watching that

  16. It’s almost as if you could see this coming. I mean, if only there was a trail of 14 league failures and $5 billion in expenses over the last 45 years predicting this….

  17. These are like IndyCar ratings.
    XFL has become the mid-season replacement of sports leagues.

  18. I haven’t watched the XFL because I keep reading on certain platforms about how the XFL is doing things different than the NFL. Maybe the XFL should consider trying to be more like the NFL. The NFL has no problem generating TV ratings and revenue that comes with high TV ratings. Just a suggestion.

  19. It’s hilarious that the billionaires and tx execs haven’t figured this problem out.

    We don’t watch because we have no connection to the teams dumbbells

    Needs to be like minor league base ball or it will never work period

    But keep wasting billions lol

  20. The early XFL games definitely suffered from the shortened offseason and the lack of preseason games, but the product has become much more compelling in recent weeks. Some of the rule changes are innovative and make the games more exciting. I can always root for a redemption story.

  21. 10 30 pm?? we all have to go to work this will not solve the viewership issues.

  22. i think the games are very watchable, like seeing how they are handling kick offs, extra points …. still don’t need the in game interviews on the sidelines but i do like how they let you listen into the talk (helmet feed) between the coordinators and the players on the field and listen in live to the officials and the replay official and hearing what they are thinking, not just the call.

  23. I decided to watch a XFL game.
    I couldn’t figure out where to find it.
    It was on FX.
    I had to dig up my channel listings guide to find where FX was.
    And the fact that they don’t promote the upcoming games at all is why they don’t get blockbuster ratings.

  24. 650k is probably the most FX has had since Sons of Anarchy was still on the network. For an 8 team league, with minimal marketing and no teams in NY and LA, this is about what to expect. With that said, putting more games on ABC and ESPN can only be seen as a plus. Between the XFL and USFL coming back in April I don’t think I’ll ever see the light of day again. Let’s go Battlehawks, Kakaw!

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