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AAF draws 2.9 million viewers for CBS opener

AAF Legends Apollos Football

Atlanta Legends receiver Bug Howard (84) is tackled by Orlando Apollos safety Will Hill and defensive back Keith Reaser (29) after catching a pass during the first half of an Alliance of American Football game Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

AP

The Alliance of American Football drew what should be considered a fairly successful audience for its first game.

Via Sports TV Ratings, the first AAF game, which aired on CBS on Saturday night, ‏averaged 2.913 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern. That’s a far cry from what any NFL game draws, but by the standards of most network television programming on a Saturday night, it was solid.

By way of comparison, the NBA game on ABC drew 2.524 million viewers during that same 9-11 time slot.

For another comparison, last Saturday night on CBS was the NFL Honors awards show, which drew 3.42 million viewers.

The big question facing the AAF, of course, is whether fans were curious to tune in as a one-time thing and will now tune the league out, or whether it can grow that fan base. For the rest of the regular season, the AAF will be on TNT, NFL Network, CBS Sports Network or the streaming B/R Live service, and it’s fair to assume that none of those outlets will ever get 2.9 million viewers for an AAF game.

But if the AAF can top 3 million for its championship game, which airs on CBS in April, that would be a strong indication that the fans are there. And that the AAF will make it to 2020, and maybe beyond.