Last year it was announced that the USFL would be retuning on FOX in 2022, but at the time not many details were known. Going into the new year it was expected that we’d see a rapid fire of announcements from the league in the leadup to kickoff. So far, they have not disappointed.
In 2022 alone we’ve learned all eight team names/logos, all head coaches, details on the draft, player/staff incentives; just to name a few. During FOX’s coverage of the NFC Championship the league debuted their first 30-second promo, which gave fans their first look at the Houston Gamblers uniform. With no football the following week, the network capitalized on their partnership with NASCAR putting out yet another 30-second promo during ‘Clash at the Coliseum’.
Beyond FOX, the USFL has signed a multi-year media rights deal with NBC; which is set to air the Super Bowl this weekend. Up until now, the only mention of the league we’ve seen on the network was a teaser in their chyron during NFL coverage. Considering that the AAF and XFL both got mentions during the big game, we think there’s a good change the USFL gets the same.
As tradition, in the leadup to the Super Bowl all major media outlets head to the location of the big game to get their interviews and scoops on radio row. Similar to how we get some XFL news in their leadup, we’re seeing the same from the USFL.
Today, USFL EVP Business Operations Edward Hartman joined OutKick 360 from Super Bowl radio row to give some more insight into the new league.
When Edward Hartman joined the show he started out by saying that it’s a lot of work to put together a new football league, but they’re confident they have all the pieces in place to make it successful.
The hosts bring up the AAF and XFL, and asked how much they looked at their attempts and what they learned from that in hopes to avoid their fate.
Hartman started by saying it’s a misconception that the XFL failed, touching on their rating and their part in that success. He also spoke on his confidence that there’s enough appetite for alternative football in spring, also bringing up the cost savings procedure of the central hub.
He then mentioned that they have the best broadcast partners and the best exposure with FOX and NBC in the mix. Beyond the ratings, they feel that there’s enough players available after the NFL draft that they should have no problem bringing in quality players and quality football.
He was then asked how sports betting fit into the USFL?
We didn’t really get any new information, but he did bring up some interesting points. Hartman states that if you look at the teams that are in the league, half of them are in states where gambling is legal. They think that by extending the football calendar, that betting companies will be interested as well as fans. It sounds like more news should be coming on that front soon.
In regards to how the league found the coaches, he leaned heavily on the team surrounding him. Hartman specifically called out Brian Woods and Daryl Johnston in their involvement in the process, saying that they couldn’t have had better minds behind the initiative. He also mentioned that Michigan Panthers head coach Jeff Fisher is set to join the show tomorrow, so something else to look forward to.
They then shifted over to the advantages of a central hub, and asked how Birmingham was chosen.
Hartman mentioned the big event at Protective stadium a few weeks back, but pushed the fact that this was a long term effort between the city and the league. He thinks that Birmingham has all the ingredients to be a great host. The city has a long history with spring football, but their fans are like no other. Hartman also touched on the fact that the centralized model helps keep the costs down, which helps them stay around long term.
When asked how can they get fans to connect with their teams before they relocate, the answer was no surprise; nostalgia. But, he did talk about the massive growth the league has seen on social media, specifically mentioning the Michigan Panthers.
He also spoke on FOX owning and operating affiliates in all of these markets, so will be able to lean on those pieces.
A big question that’s been on everyone’s mind is how the big simulcast between FOX and NBC came together. Luckily, the OutKick 360 hosts asked the question.
It’s a historic event”
He said that the NBC is very bullish on the new league as well and it’s rare to have two broadcast partners to be this excited about any partnership, but this is something all parties are behind.
Hartman started by saying it goes to the brilliance of Erik Shanks to get the deal to happen between the two networks. The fact that it hasn’t been done since the first Super Bowl, he said it’s going to be an incredible and historic event. Beyond the simulcast, the tickets are affordable as well, with Hartman stating that their goal is to be the most family friendly league in the country.
He also said that a big rollout on merchandise is coming soon, matching what we heard from Brian Woods interview yesterday.
In regards to the draft, we don’t really get much more than we already know. He mentioned that it’s taking place February 22nd and 23rd and that that’s when we’ll start seeing more shape around the teams and players. Clearly there’s a lot of demand for more football, they’re just working on being thoughtful on how they rollout their announcements. But there will be a lot more announcements in the leadup to kickoff.
It’s great to see more USFL content coming down the pipeline.
What USFL news are you looking forward to the most? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.