So far, so good for the revamped XFL, whose return over the weekend did well with attendance and TV viewership. While hardly on the scale of an NFL game, the league performed more or less to expectations.
ABC and ESPN combined to average 2.9 million viewers as both networks kicked off coverage of the league, which is WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon’s second try at providing professional football during the NFL’s offseason.
Although the usually prolix McMahon was relatively quiet about his Stamford-based league’s first week results, the XFL’s media partners were presumably pleased.
The Feb. 8 ABC game, which saw the DC Defenders beat the Seattle Dragons, 31-19, averaged 3.3 million viewers, peaking with 4.01 million viewers from 4:45 to 5 p.m. EST, according to Nielsen. The ratings agency said the Feb. 9 ESPN game – a 15-9 victory over the Dallas Renegades by the St. Louis BattleHawks – averaged nearly 2.5 million viewers, peaking at 2.9 million viewers from 7:30-7:45 p.m. EST.
ESPN’s XFL telecast also generated 3.4 million video views across Facebook and Twitter, according to Nielsen Social Content Ratings.
During the just-completed NFL regular season, games averaged 16.7 million viewers on TV and digital, according to Nielsen.
As for attendance, the four XFL games combined averaged 17,454 fans – ranging from 17,163 for the Seattle/DC contest to 17,815 for the Houston Roughnecks/LA Wildcats tilt – while the average attendance for an NFL game for the 2019 season was 66,151.