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Encouraging TV Ratings Buoy AAF

by Fran Stuchbury
March 7, 2019 - Alliance of American Football (AAF)

A month into the Alliance of American Football's inaugural season, television ratings remain strong.

The Alliance scheduled its debut on CBS and drew 3 million viewers. A follow-up game on cable powerhouse TNT brought in one million on a Saturday afternoon. NFL Network has shown two games per week and CBS Sports Network has aired one game each weekend. The remaining AAF action has been available on online service Bleacher Report Live.

The strong TNT showing encouraged the network to quickly add another pair of AAF games to its slate. Saturday's Orlando vs. Birmingham contest and March 23rd's Orlando vs. Atlanta game have been moved from Bleacher Report Live to TNT.

NFL Network games have consistently drawn 400,000 to 500,000 viewers despite less availability and lower channel positioning for the network.

AAF Chairman Tom Dundon told "The Business of Sports" podcast the ratings have been double what the league was expecting.

The league will next concentrate on game attendance.

The San Antonio Commanders are averaging over 28,000 fans and Orlando Apollos over 20,000 fans so far for the best attendances in the league.

Average attendance came it at over 19,000 for the first two weeks but slipped to 14,078 in week three and 9,582 last week. Several crowds have been hampered by poor weather.

Dundon told Mike Florio on NBC Sports that for year two, "They will work on doing much more marketing in the local team markets which will end up improving attendance. That's the biggest thing we will work on next season."

Last week, just 6,539 attended in Birmingham where tornadoes in the area ended up killing over 20 people.

Several inches of snow affected attendance at Salt Lake's home game against Orlando where 9,302 hearty souls showed up.

The AAF is taking a patient approach with the local markets.

AAF Co-Founder Bill Polian told the Memphis Commercial Appeal, "There are no plans to either expand the AAF or relocate any of its current eight teams in 2020."

Some thoughts around the league:

  • Atlanta Legends defensive back Ed Reynolds Jr. tackled Arizona Hotshots wide receiver Rashad Ross in the endzone for the first safety in Alliance history:

  • The AAF Sky Judge got involved in the San Antonio - Birmingham game when the Commanders' Duke Thomas hit Iron wide receiver Tobias Palmer. The sky judge considered the contact targeting due to hitting a defenseless receiver. The NFL has reportedly shown some interest in the AAF's Sky Judge system.

  • The Memphis Express-Atlanta Legends tilt is a huge one this week. If Orlando defeats Birmingham on Saturday, the winner of this game will be 2-3, just one game behind Birmingham for second place in the Eastern Conference.

  • Both Memphis and Atlanta seem to have life on offense with new starting quarterbacks Zach Mettenberger for Memphis and Aaron Murray for Atlanta.

  • San Diego Fleet Head Coach Mike Martz says Philip Nelson is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured clavicle. Mike Bercovici, the opening night starter, will take the reins on Saturday against the Salt Lake Stallions.

  • AAF ratings are in: Saturday's Orlando vs. Salt Lake contest drew 409,000 viewers for a .24 rating. Sunday, the Atlanta vs. Arizona game totalled 450,000 viewers and a .27 rating, making it the 51st highest ranked cable show. Both numbers represent an increase for NFL Network over prior viewership.

  • At 4-0, Orlando Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert leads the AAF in passing yards with 1,071, way ahead of the Birmingham Iron's Luis Perez who has 797 yards.

  • Road teams went 3-1 last week.

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Alliance of American Football Stories from March 7, 2019

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