The new highly anticipated XFL officially made its debut this weekend. Many football fans like myself were curious after years of hype and anticipation what the product on the field would look like. And after week one of the XFL, I’m left feeling….meh.
Now there was a lot of good that came out of this weekend for the XFL. For one the ratings were very good and lots of people tuned in.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) February 10, 2020
To put that in comparison to the NFL, the average viewership this past season for the NFL was 16.5 million according to Nielsen. Yes it’s harsh for me to compare a GIANT in the NFL to a brand new league in the XFL, but essentially the XFL was able to bring in at least 1/5 of an NFL audience. For a brand new league that’s pretty impressive. However, the now dead AAF (Alliance of American Football) also had great ratings in its debut, but quickly flamed out after that.
As for the play on the field, it was pretty decent football. Yes the new kickoff rules, 3 point conversions after touchdowns, double forward passes and other rules were a bit weird to see. Other than those strange new rules we got some flashy plays and got to see football as we know it.
Really the big question I have for the XFL is, why should I keep watching? I tuned in to the games, and while it was cool to see some football on, I just really didn’t care. The whole reason that the XFL is even a thing is because of the idea that fans want football 24/7 year round. The idea that fans want to watch ANY kind of football for all 12 months. I just think that’s just simply not true. People watched this weekend out of curiosity, now the question is will people want to keep watching. We are in the middle of the NBA/College Basketball/NHL season. The NCAA tournament is a month away, hell the NFL offseason is about to get underway. The NFL Draft is in April. Sports fans are going to have their attention diverted to other more well established sports. To say the XFL is still going to compete with these other established leagues is naive at best.
Also the other main problem for the XFL is who are the stars of this league? You have some recognizable names like Landry Jones, Cardale Jones, Aaron Murray to name a few, But are they “stop what you are doing and watch this guy RIGHT NOW!!!” kind of players? Well, Cardale Jones did well in his debut. He was 16 for 26 and threw for 235 yards. Landry Jones is still injured and Aaron Murray was just flat out awful.
Aaron Murray halftime stats: 11/25 / 156 yards / 2 Interceptions / 31.4 QB rating
— Konnor Fulk (@XFLKonnor) February 9, 2020
Maybe I’m just a pessimistic kind of person, but I just don’t see how this league survives. The football is entertaining to a point. But after a while people aren’t going to care as much and the viewership is going to drop off. I could very well be wrong and be eating my words in a few months, but if the XFL fails, it might be the very last alternative football league we see.