As we near the end of 2021, the USFL is bringing some exciting developments to the world of spring football. After making several major announcements over the past couple of months, the league has now unveiled their partnership with NBC & its affiliates, to broadcast 21 games during the 2022 season.
📺 It's official!
NBC will join FOX Sports as our official broadcast partners.
The networks will present all 43 regular and postseason games beginning in April 2022. pic.twitter.com/pU1B6Z6UXU
— USFL (@USFL) December 15, 2021
This, without a doubt, is a huge deal for spring football. FOX has officially sold a rights package to NBC, and the two networks will be joining forces come April.
Interesting scoop from John: Fox Sports owns @USFL, but has sold a package of games to NBC. Extensive broadcast coverage for the new league in April. https://t.co/VI7scRmzxt
— Ben Fischer (@BenFischerSBJ) December 15, 2021
What makes this news so important, and historical, is the fact that NBC was willing to pay to broadcast the USFL – something we have not seen in the world of spring football in a long time.
For reference, the Alliance of American Football had to pay CBS and the NFL Network to air games back in 2019. The XFL, while having better leverage than the AAF, was not in a position to make much from broadcasting deals early on.
However, FOX and NBC are both buying into the USFL, which means that they are confident that the league can be successful long term. Let’s take a bit of a deeper look into this package, and what it means for FOX, NBC, the USFL, and more.
How Will The 43 Games Be Split Up?
NBC is taking on 21 of the games for the 2022 season, including the regular season, and the postseason. According to the official press release, eight games will be nationally broadcasted on NBC. Nine will be aired on USA Network, with four being streamed on their Peacock streaming service.
NBC has joined Fox Sports as a USFL broadcast partner, a pact reportedly for 3 years.
Game breakdown 📺
➖ NBC: 8
➖ USA Network: 9
➖ Peacock: 4
➖ Fox: 12
➖ FS1: 10
The USFL’s 20 national broadcasts are the most of any regularly scheduled sport in early 2022, per the league. pic.twitter.com/zkWi7LOnOJ
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) December 16, 2021
FOX will handle twelve games on their national broadcast, with the final ten aired on FS1. The two game difference between the channels will most likely come from the playoffs, with a semifinals game and then the championship being aired on FOX, as opposed to FS1.
FOX & NBC Teaming Up = Recipe For Success?
While we do not want to get too far ahead of ourselves, this partnership is certainly something that could prove to be the major stepping stone for the USFL to survive.
Considering FOX has seen promising success in the spring football arena between the XFL and the TSL, having NBC come on board will only grow the audience these two networks can reach.
As of right now, details of just how big this deal is have not yet been disclosed. That being said, those close to the corporations have alluded to the fact that it is significant, to say the least.
“A source with inside knowledge of the [NBC USFL deal] characterized the dollar figure as “significant.””@harrisonernstm1 https://t.co/qdkilF5kUO
— USFL News (@Newsusfl) December 16, 2021
According to Anthony Crupi of Yahoo Sports, he says that “the revived USFL is said to have secured a rights fee from NBC, although the agreed-upon fee remains under wraps”, and “insiders close to the action say NBC has committed to a three-year pact with the USFL”.
With both FOX and NBC going all in on the idea of the USFL, it seems like they are confident that spring football can succeed on a large scale. They would be correct, in that assumption, especially when you look at the numbers the XFL put up in its short 2020 tenure.
The @xfl2020 on ESPN/ABC is off to a strong start! pic.twitter.com/ZjAzmTLmz9
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) February 10, 2020
Advantages To April
Another important factor to bring into consideration is the plan to debut the USFL in April. It is an opportune time for spring football, especially for NBC. With the NHL moving to ESPN, NBC now has openings to air something else, which is why they are intrigued by the USFL.
NBC Sports Chair, Pete Bevacqua, said that “we love the spot in the calendar”; and believes that April is “the perfect moment in the sports calendar to debut the USFL”, as there is not much competition (via Sports Business Journal).
Streaming Services & Their Potential Role
As we already know, Peacock will be streaming four of the USFL’s 43 games in 2022. However, there is a solid chance that we will see more of these streaming services in the future, especially when you consider how popular they are becoming.
Many people these days, at least in the younger generation, are not purchasing cable subscriptions. Instead, they put their money into online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and the aforementioned Peacock.
With NBC continuing to build upon Peacock’s success, and FOX also developing more content for their FOX Nation streaming service, the USFL can definitely use these outlets as potential avenues to go down in the future.
April is approaching quickly, so FOX and NBC still have quite a bit of work to do before hitting the field in a few months. With that in mind, the two networks have an impressive opportunity in front of them, and we should expect some excellent things from the USFL in 2022.
What do you think of NBC’s partnership with FOX and the USFL? Will you be tuning in for the 2022 season? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!