You could view these numbers at multiple angles, depending on what you’re comparing them to. But first, let’s look at a few factors that played into the overall accessibility of this weekend’s games:
– Friday Night’s FX matchup competed with the NCAAW Final Four, and Smackdown.
– Saturday’s ESPN matchup was competing with the NCAA Final Four, alongside Wrestlemania.
– Sunday’s ESPN game went head to head with the NCAAW National Championship, which had a record breaking 9.5 million viewers on ABC. It also dealt with a Pickleball tournament that went over its scheduled time limit on ESPN.
Considering the amount of competition the XFL was dealing with this weekend, these TV ratings aren’t terrible. At least, some of them. ESPN’s number on Sunday is actually pretty impressive, considering the ridiculous pull the NCAAW Championship had.
With that in mind, the rest of these games are a step backwards from week six in many ways. This was to be expected, as we saw two matchups on ABC last weekend. This time around, all four games were on cable networks.
I’m not sure why the XFL thought that a Friday night game was a good idea, especially on FX. That 177k number is pitiful, being the lowest rated spring football outing in modern history. The USFL had very little success with their Friday Night games in 2022, so the XFL probably should have avoided making the same mistake.
It’s unfortunate to see such a low number on FX, as the network has outperformed expectations so far. Seattle and Arlington are supposed to be some of the XFL’s stronger markets, so such a low rating isn’t an ideal look for the league.
Did March Madness play a factor? Absolutely. But, it’s not entirely an “excuse”, per se, especially when looking at ESPN’s ratings. Only 365,000 people tuned into Saturday’s ESPN showdown between Orlando and DC, which is a shame considering how entertaining that matchup was.
ESPN averaged 1,877,000 viewers in 2022. On top of that, in 2020 the XFL only saw one game on ESPN that had less than 1M tuned in. That was a Sunday night game with a 9pm ET start time, which averaged 833,000 in week five.
While ESPN+ certainly plays a factor, it’s hard to imagine those users playing a role significant enough to get these numbers over 1 million. Those expecting the XFL to be the same beast it was in 2020 are likely disappointed, but with such a different broadcasting landscape in 2023, it’s reasonable to see the drop off that we have in some aspects.
At the same time, a lack of games on OTA broadcast networks (ABC) certainly hasn’t helped. With almost every XFL matchup being pushed to cable, there’s only so much we could have expected from a TV ratings standpoint. FX and ESPN2 have performed relatively well all things considered, but there’s plenty of room for improvement – especially when it comes to ESPN.
Good news: week eight should help XFL TV ratings rebound to an extent. March Madness is done, and three of the four matchups are on ABC or ESPN.
Hopefully, excitement picks up as we head towards the playoff push. Week eight of the XFL kicks off on Saturday at 1pm ET, with the St. Louis Battlehawks hosting the Vegas Vipers on ESPN.
What are your thoughts on these XFL TV Ratings from week seven? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!