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OSC Weekly Ratings Wrapup

by David Carlson
April 10, 2019 - XFL (XFL)

NOTE: Don't know what the "demo" is? Unsure of why the different ratings numbers don't match up? Read our explanation of TV ratings in our first article here.

Last Weeks OSC Leagues Ratings Summary:

Saturday March 30
MLS on FOX, 3pm.11341k
Sunday March 31
MLS on ESPN, 3pm.08229k

You can read numerous articles talking about the poor start to the season MLS is having on TV (e.g.: https://worldsoccertalk.com/2019/03/05/mls-begins-2019-season-disappointing-tv-ratings-espn-fs1-univision/). We will likely dive into the topic more as the season wears on, but suffice it to say at some point MLS needs to inch up in average viewers if they are to get the same level of money ($90-95/m year between ESPN, FOX and Univision) in the next round of TV deals.

The legacy of the AAF on TV

Turner Networks (TNT, TBS, TruTV) and NFL Network Shows in the Top 150 Cable Shows this past Saturday & Sunday: None

The AAF shuttered its doors last week, with a lot of blame to go around between the founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, and the investors who fell through, Reggie Fowler and then Tom Dundon.

Despite the failure of the league to find financial sustainability, it did show once again that a decent number of fans will watch football in February after the Super Bowl to get a fix, but they quickly lose interest once March Madness and spring arrive.

Looking at the AAF ratings, they mirror in many ways the XFL and Arena Football League on NBC, which both also decided to play starting immediately after the Super Bowl. While the AAF didn't help themselves in the last week or two with all the talk about the lead investor pulling of the plug, it likely would have dipped considerably in any case.

AAF 2019AFL 2004AFL 2003XFL 2001
(NFLN Avg)(NBC)(NBC)(NBC)
Feb 2-3n/an/a1.69.5
Feb 8-10640k2.11.6 (even)4.6 (-52%)
Feb 15-17424k (-33%)1.7 (-20%)1.7 (+6%)3.1 (-33%)
Feb 22-24503k (+18%)1.4 (-18%)1.4 (-18%)2.6 (-16%)
Feb 29-Mar 3429k (-15%)1.5 (+7%)1.2 (-15%)2.4 (-8%)
Mar 7-10288k (-33%)1.2 (-20%)1.0 (-17%)2.4 (even)
Mar 14-17294k (+2%)1.0 (-17%)1.1 (+10%)1.6 (-33%)
Mar 21-24246k (-17%)off1.2 (+11%)1.8 (+13%)
Mar 28-31~229k (-7%)1.0 (even)off1.5 (-17%)
First vs. Last-65%-53%-25%-85%

Despite those drop-offs, the number we gave at the beginning of this column is important: zero shows in the Top 150 cable programs on Saturday or Sunday were on a Turner channel or NFL Network. When the AAF was playing, everyone of the TNT & NFLN telecasts (other than the last NFLN Saturday game, and that could be attributed to the league rumors floating around) were in the Top 150 cable shows. The numbers prove a winter/spring league CAN deliver better ratings for many networks than their standard fare. The question is, can those ratings eventually translate into real income for a fledgling league? That remains to be seen.

The key for the XFL next year will be to prove they are prepared to handle the likely 50% drop off in ratings between the first 2 weeks of the season and once the leagues gets to late March and into April. If their ratings expectations can handle the likely tumble, they may be okay. It may be advantageous for the XFL to get out in front of those expectations, even publicly to the media, so it isn't as big of news when it happens.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.


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