Continuous Decline of XFL Viewership is Not Alarming, But Competition and Lack of Coverage Will Be

Bobby Burack
XFL's Week 4 ratings.
XFL's Week 4 ratings. / XFL/Getty Images
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The XFL ratings dipped again in Week 4. Los Angeles at New York averaged 1.9 viewers Saturday on ABC, per ProFootballTalk. The late-day FOX matchup between Seattle and St. Louis drew 1.8 million viewers. Houston-Dallas aired to 1.1 million on FS1 Sunday, which was followed by a 1 million average from the ESPN2 viewing of D.C. and Tampa Bay.

Three of the four games declined from the previous week. FS1 drew slightly below 1.1 million in Week 3.

The continuous week-by-week decline is still not alarming. As we've been saying, it was expected. The key now will be how much further the viewership goes south. The XFL still has some wiggle room where the numbers can drop while remaining viable. 

Four weeks in, the viewership for the XFL is on par with the NBA's. Friday's doubleheader — Thunder/Bucks and Nuggets/Clippers — averaged around 1.1 million viewers on ESPN, according to ShowBuzzDaily. ESPN compares favorably to the XFL's cable airings, FS1 and ESPN2, this past weekend. The XFL's viewership doesn't look nearly as discouraging through those lens. 

An issue for the start-up league is the lack of buzz throughout the week. There is virtually no coverage on television or radio. The games come and go with no talk in-between. This roadblock will likely loom for the remainder of the season. Sports-talk focusing on the NBA and the NFL over a league with minimal notable names is not puzzling by any means. The hosts of these shows aren't dialed-in enough to discuss the XFL from interesting, informative angles. But with FOX and ESPN as the broadcast partners, they are both making the mistake of not interviewing/bringing on those who can-- whether that be the XFL's players, coaches, or writers.

March also brings challenges that the post-Super Bowl February landscape did not. The widely popular NCAA Tournament tips off Thursday, March 19. Week 10 of the XFL will go head-to-head with The 2020 Masters Tournament in April. Baseball lacks national cachet, but come the start of the MLB season — March 26 — local baseball in various markets will be a factor.

The XFL 2.0 has to withstand competition as it approaches its second half. It's too early to worry. It's also too early to feel comfortable. But through four weeks, it's been a success.

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