The XFL was first established in the year 2001 and it was owned by WWF (Now WWE) & NBC. All the live and big games were aired on NBC, while the weekend games and the recap games were aired on UPN. NBC’s inaugural XFL game featured The Las Vegas Outlaws going up against The New York/New Jersey Hitmen as The Outlaws defeated The Hitmen 19-0 in their home-field. That first game earned a 10.3 rating, making it the highest rated Saturday night on NBC since September 30, 2000, according to the overnights released by Nielsen Media Research. The debut game also surpassed NBC’s Major League Baseball American League Championship Series Game 4 (New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners) which had an overnight rating of 8.1 on Saturday, October 14, 2000.
The 10.3 rating more than doubled NBC’s Saturday night January 2001 national average of a 4.2 rating and propelled the network to a primetime victory in the preliminary overnights. ABC earned a 7.6 rating, CBS a 7.2 rating and FOX a 5.8 rating for the night.
“We’re off to a very good start and are pleased with last night,” said Dick Ebersol, Chairman NBC Sports and Olympics. “We’re trying to bring Saturday night viewers back to NBC and last night’s game more than doubled the time period and was the highest rated Saturday night since the last Saturday of the Olympics.
“The fan and viewer come first for us and the fact that a vast an overwhelming majority of them stayed through a blowout is a testament to their interest and to the product.
A blowout is every producers’ greatest fear, but in this case the unique and original manner of producing the game obviously attracted a lot of very early fans. As Vince has repeatedly said, we’re a work in progress and we can’t wait to see Chicago Enforcers’ John Avery go into Los Angeles next Saturday night to play the Xtreme.”
NBC switched from The Las Vegas game (with all the scoring taking place in the first half) to the Chicago Enforcers – Orlando Rage game when the game reached their final quarter as The Orlando Rage was leading The Chicago Enforcers 27-22 at home. NBC had The Las Vegas Outlaws favored to win the game at that point, thus the change of game. In a wild finish, Orlando held on to outlast Chicago 33-29. This game earned a local Chicago rating of 11.1 and a 10.7 in Orlando. Las Vegas was the highest rated overnight-metered market, generating a 17.7 rating, followed by Minneapolis with a 14.9 rating.
During XFL’s first game it was reported that more men watched the XFL than they did The World Series. XFL’s debut weekend were said to be watched by a total of 54 million viewers. Among men 18-49, that Saturday’s game got a 10.3 rating from 8-11 PM EST, the 12th-highest Saturday night rating in the category since Nielsen began its people meter in 1987. The audience in that category was NBC’s highest since Game 6 of the 1997 World Series between Florida and Cleveland.
Among men 18-34, the 10.2 rating was said to be higher than the 8.2 average for the previous year’s World Series and the 9.5 average for ABC’s Monday Night Football. NBC was hoping that the trend of the huge ratings would continue, but since the second game, the ratings were plummeting down, which was a major factor in the demise of the XFL’s inaugural season.
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