XFL Ratings Suffer in Week 5 Thanks to March Madness Competition
By Liam McKeone
The first weekend of this year's NCAA Tournament was nothing short of incredible, with numerous huge upsets happening in the first two rounds. It was a lot of fun to watch and the possibility of anything happening kept many eyeballs glued to the screen from Thursday to Sunday. This unfortunately meant that competing sports lost those same eyeballs. Like the XFL, which saw a pretty steep drop in viewership in Week 5 over the weekend.
This is the biggest week-to-week drop since the beginning of the year, when the Week 1 games were shown on broadcast television before making the switch to cable and streaming only. As noted the ESPN+ numbers are not included but Disney hasn't made those public to this point so the measurements remain the same week-to-week.
This was definitely a problem executives saw coming and attempted to mitigate by pushing kickoff times back. Sunday night's marquee matchup didn't kick off until 9 p.m. ET. It is a calculated strategy to lose most East Coast viewers for anything after the first quarter but bank on an uptick of West Coast viewers tuning in to finish a day of sports after the March Madness games wrapped up.
All in all it worked well enough. The viewership didn't crater considering the circumstances. If they can keep up similar viewership numbers throughout the final weekends of the tournament then there will be plenty of time to build momentum heading into the playoffs later in April.