Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

XFL 3.0 debuts to significantly lower ratings than XFL 2.0

Mike Florio and Chris Simms argue the pros and cons to the USFL and XFL revising the touchback rule on fumbles to give the ball back to the offense, and how it relates to the current NFL rules.

The XFL is back. The TV audience is not.

Via, the four XFL games televised by ABC/ESPN over this past weekend had a drop in viewership of at least 50 percent from the same windows in 2020, when the XFL returned for a season that ultimately was cut short due to the pandemic.

The first game between Vegas and Arlington on ABC had 1.54 million viewers. That reflects a 54-percent drop over the 3.3 million who tuned in for the first game on ABC in February 2020. The actual reduction was likely even larger, given that out-of-home viewership was not included in the 2020 numbers.

The numbers also lagged behind the USFL debut in 2022 (3.07 million) and the AAF in 2019 (3.25 million). Those games were played in primetime and not in the afternoon, however.

The other ABC game, St. Louis at San Antonio, averaged 1.57 million viewers, a 54-percent drop from the same window in 2020. The night games on ESPN and FX drew 1.14 million on Saturday and 918,000 on Sunday.

As noted by, the XFL didn’t have any viewership below a million until the fifth week of its 2020 season.

That said, the numbers aren’t horrible. But the trend is concerning. The biggest challenge continues to be getting people to care about football when it’s not football season.

That’s why one of these alternate leagues should be playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the fall. Of course, if anyone ever did that, the NFL would likely muscle them out -- especially if the games drew significant audiences.