The inaugural season of The XFL got off to a huge start in the ratings when it was first established seventeen years ago.
For XFL’s first telecast on February 3, 2001, NBC earned a 9.5 final national rating. The rating was up 86% from the network’s Saturday night average at that point of the 2000-01 television season. The premiere XFL telecast helped NBC win the night on broadcast, and gave the network what was its highest rated Saturday night on record in the men 18-34 demographic.
Even though the first game started off with a huge rating, The XFL did not remain to have huge ratings for that long. Ratings for NBC’s Saturday night coverage dropped by 52% from Week 1 to Week 2 (4.6), by 33% from Week 2 to Week 3 (3.1), and by 16% from Week 3 to Week 4 (2.6). Ratings bottomed out at a 1.5 in both Weeks 9 and 10, and the league’s championship game A.K.A The Million Dollar Game drew a 2.1. NBC averaged a 3.0 rating for twelve XFL telecasts. UPN, which carried Sunday afternoon XFL coverage, averaged a 1.3. NBC and the WWF both lost $35 million on their $100 million investment in the league’s inaugural season.
Although committing to broadcast two seasons, NBC pulled out of its broadcast contract for the XFL after the inaugural season, citing the poor viewership. While WWF owner Vince McMahon initially stated that the XFL would continue without NBC, and proposed the addition of expansion teams, unfavorable demands of the league by UPN hastened the XFL’s demise, and the league ceased operations entirely in May 2001 a month after the championship game. The Los Angeles Xtreme were the XFL’s first and only champions. McMahon conceded that the league was a colossal failure.
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