Whether the upstart USFL can succeed where other spring football leagues have failed remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that the league’s first game will draw a large audience.
Both NBC and Fox will simulcast the first USFL game on Saturday, April 16, according to Sports Business Journal. The prime time game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
It’s extremely rare for two broadcast networks to simulcast the same game, and it guarantees that plenty of people will watch. Ultimately the USFL’s success or failure will depend more on hard-core football fans and degenerate gamblers than on casual viewers, but by getting on two of the four broadcast networks, the USFL is ensuring that casual viewers won’t have any trouble finding the first game. And some of those casual viewers may turn into fans, especially if the league is able to put on an entertaining on-field product.
After the opener, other USFL games will be broadcast on NBC, Fox, USA Network, Peacock and FS1.
The USFL debuted in 1983 and had three seasons before going out of business. Its return will feature eight teams carrying the names of original franchises: Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars, Pittsburgh Maulers, Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers and Tampa Bay Bandits. But despite the city names, all of this season’s USFL games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama.