The TV ratings are in for the final weekend of the 2023 XFL regular season. The XFL returned to a similar slate of games from Week 9, with a lone ABC offering, two ESPN telecasts, and an ESPN2 showing to round out Week 10.
Week 10’s XFL games had high playoff stakes attached to them. But the revived league once again was competing for interest, with the returning USFL airing three games that either aired directly or overlapped with the XFL’s action.
A week ago, there was a direct effect in the cannibalization of the XFL’s audience. In Week 8, the XFL rebounded strongly, averaging 760,000 viewers with only one game airing on broadcast network TV. However, Week 9, with the USFL on the scene, saw the XFL’s average viewership drop to 588,000 viewers.
Let’s look at how the XFL fared in round two of the Spring Pro Football League showdown.
XFL Week 10 TV Ratings On ABC/ESPN, And ESPN2
On Saturday afternoon at 12 noon ET on ESPN, the XFL’s game between the St. Louis Battlehawks and Orlando Guardians averaged 636,000 viewers. The telecast was rated 15th out of the top 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 adult demographic.
- The USFL, which also opened their weekend with a cable broadcast on the USA Network, saw the New Orleans Breakers-Houston Gamblers game at 12:30 ET average 133,000 viewers. The telecast was rated 133rd out of the top 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 adult demographic.
The XFL’s second game Saturday on ABC featuring the D.C. Defenders and San Antonio Brahmas averaged 832,000 viewers. The highest-viewed spring pro football game of the weekend.
Sunday afternoon’s 3 pm ET XFL game on ESPN of the Houston Roughnecks and Arlington Renegades averaged 403,000 viewers. The broadcast was rated 32nd out of 150 cable shows in the 18-49 demo.
- The USFL overlapped with the XFL’s ESPN game for one hour on Sunday as the opposing league averaged 725,000 viewers on NBC at 1 pm ET.
The XFL’s regular-season finale Sunday night on ESPN2 at 7 PM ET, which saw the Seattle Sea Dragons clinch a berth to this weekend’s North Championship game by defeating the Vegas Vipers, averaged 378,000 viewers. The game was rated 41st out of 150 cable broadcasts in the 18-49 adult demo.
- Airing directly against the XFL on Sunday night at 7 ET was the USFL on FS1. The USFL’s Michigan-Philadelphia matchup averaged 211,000 viewers.
For Week 10, the XFL won, if you want to call it that, in the head-to-head ratings battle with the USFL. It was more of a decision going to the scorecards. The XFL averaged 562,000 viewers to the USFL’s 466,000. The latter aired two network games, while the XFL aired only one. But the USFL was dragged down by two poor cable outings.
Week 10 Analysis
For the second week in a row, it was more of the same for the XFL. The USFL splintered the league’s viewership totals. The XFL’s average viewership two weeks ago of 760,000 with season high performances on cable have gone down to the 570k range.
Week 10 in the XFL had all the makings of a potentially strong regular-season finale—playoff implications with teams fighting for their lives.
Saturday’s two XFL games, in particular, were outstanding. Both games had high drama for different reasons.
The Battlehawks in St. Louis, in front of over 33,000 fans trying to score and limit as many points as possible to desperately get into the playoffs. The Battlehawks scored 53. And the D.C. Defenders and San Antonio Brahmas engaged in a wild last-second 29-28 finish.
However, where the XFL has failed themselves countless times this season is in their failure to promote and communicate directly with their fans.
Week 10, in particular, provided more confusion than excitement due to the league’s borrowing of the NFL’s rare combined ranking scoring tie-breaker. The XFL Today show on Sunday, hosted by Jason Fitz and Skubie Mageza, got it right. Even if they were just as befuddled as everyone else justifiably was.
The league and its TV partner ESPN dropped the ball in accurately and coherently setting the stage for what should’ve been a thrilling close to the regular season. It started back in week nine when the ESPN broadcast team informed the audience after St. Louis’s loss to Seattle that all the Battlehawks needed to do was beat Orlando to gain entry into the postseason.
After that snafu, The two partners, ESPN and the XFL had a whole week to educate their fanbase, the casual viewer, and themselves on the scenarios. Instead, it took them until late in game #4 of Week 10 to finally get it right.
Enthusiasts and followers of the league dedicated themselves greatly to learning the XFL’s unique and complex tie-breaker system. Only to hear the league and ESPN’s TV side jointly fail to communicate what needed to happen on Sunday for St. Louis or Seattle to make the playoffs. The league didn’t even take into account the significance of Sunday’s Arlington-Houston game in the North playoff picture.
As a result, the XFL sold themselves short in Week 10. It’s a shame because the games and the atmosphere attached to them have been phenomenal. A trend that should continue in the much simpler playoffs. Even though a 4-6 team will be competing for a championship game bid instead of a 7-3 squad.
XFL Playoff TV Schedule
|SOUTH DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Arlington Renegades||@||Houston Roughnecks||Saturday, April 29|
|ESPN2 / ESPN+ / ESPN Deportes|
ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
|NORTH DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Seattle Sea Dragons||@||D.C. Defenders||Saturday, April 29|
7:00 PM ET
|ESPN / ESPN+ / ESPN Deportes|
ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
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