Well, it’s about that time for some premature speculation, now that the XFL has finally made some moves. On Monday, the league made a major announcement concerning hiring’s, as the organization has brought in a new President, along with an impressive team of leaders.
Welcome Russ Brandon as President, Football and League Operations and members of the executive leadership team as we continue to build ahead of our return to play in 2023. #XFL
Read full announcement: https://t.co/bMr56T7QmP pic.twitter.com/Er2cBA2ies
— XFL (@XFL2023) November 8, 2021
This confirms the fact that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia, and others were working hard behind the scenes to build a strong infrastructure from the ground up, and they are taking their time in doing so to ensure that they get it right.
However, with leadership positions now filled, there are plenty of others who have the ability to contribute to the XFL’s growth, as they head towards 2023.
With this in mind, the XFL will have to, at some point, cross the bridge of finding broadcasting partners for the 2023 season. Let’s take a look at what we know so far, and what those facts could lead to in the future.
Jay Rothman’s Role
An important piece to the XFL’s new leadership team is Jay Rothman, who is taking over as Vice President of Broadcast Operations. Rothman brings a boatload of experience to the organization, most recently serving as Vice President of Production for ESPN.
With Rothman now on board with the XFL, the league has put themselves in a solid position to potentially solidify a deal with the network, if ESPN/ABC is willing to restructure. His connection to the company may be the key the XFL needs to see nationally broadcasted games come 2023.
The XFL previously worked with ESPN and ABC in 2020, as they aired multiple games for the league over the course of five weeks. Had the season been able to continue, the Championship game would have been broadcasted on ESPN on April 26th.
Now, there are plenty of options for the XFL to choose from, but some limitations are involved. FOX, who was a major partner for the league in 2020, is now fully devoted to the USFL for 2022. This leaves the door open for ESPN & Co. to take on a bigger role this coming season, if they want it.
An interesting nugget from the #XFL hires: Jay Rothman most recently worked at ESPN as the Vice President of Production. You wonder if this may play a part in the league potentially working with ESPN, come 2023? With FOX going all in on the #USFL, it would make sense.
— James Larsen (@JamesLarsenMI) November 8, 2021
Considering how well the XFL performed on ESPN and ABC during the 2020 season, it would make sense to see the network restructure a deal with the league for 2023. Only time will tell, but ESPN/ABC would certainly be a front runner, especially with the Jay Rothman hire.
Is CBS a Dark Horse Candidate?
With all of the buzz surrounding FOX and the USFL, some tend to forget that CBS would be more than willing to broadcast spring football, if the right scenario was presented to them.
CBS was one of the only major stations to air games for the Alliance Of American Football – which was something they were paid to do.
How much do Americans like football? The first game of the AAF on CBS beat the NBA on ABC nationwide in overnight ratings.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 10, 2019
While the XFL will have more financial leverage compared to the AAF, there is definitely a solid chance that we see the league partner with CBS to replace FOX in 2023.
What About FOX?
Right about now, it seems like FOX is set on focusing 100% of their resources towards the USFL, especially with the league starting up in 2022.
The USFL is back! Catch all the action next year on FOX Sports.
Listen as @USFLOfficial’s iconic #22 @DougFlutie weighs in on the league’s return in 2022. pic.twitter.com/K0Hw0N54rp
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 3, 2021
Now, this does not mean that FOX wouldn’t be open to working with the XFL come 2023 (nothing has been said that would make us assume that), but there are a couple of factors to take into consideration.
Firstly, can the USFL survive for more than one year? While no one wants to see the resurrected league fail, spring football is not guaranteed to be a success, despite its large fanbase. The AAF and XFL 2.0 are both examples of that.
Secondly, if the USFL does play through 2022 and beyond, would FOX want to have two competing spring football leagues on their network? Considering FOX is also invested heavily in the USFL, they may be opposed to the XFL partnering with their network, despite how hungry FOX is for football.
At the end of the day, we’ll have to wait and see if the USFL performs well. That will be the major player for FOX deciding whether to broadcast the XFL or not.
Should NBC Be Considered A Front Runner?
Another network that could grab a hold of the XFL, if they so desired, is NBC. They had a massive deal with the XFL back in 2001, and currently have a strong connection with Dwayne Johnson, who has aired multiple shows of his own on the network.
While nothing has been said yet concerning broadcasting partners, NBC is another network to watch closely as 2023 creeps closer.
As previously mentioned, this is all speculation based on the few things that we know at the current moment. Over time, more will be revealed, giving us a better idea as to who will be broadcasting these XFL games for the whole country to see.
Until then, we will patiently wait for the XFL’s return, and also anticipate the USFL’s resurrection in 2022.
Who do you think will partner with the XFL for 2023? Is ESPN the clear answer, or someone else? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!