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XFL 2023: Week Two TV Ratings On ESPN, ESPN2, And FX

Week two TV ratings are in for the XFL 2023 season. After debuting on ABC in week one, XFL telecasts began a four-week stretch where all the league’s games air on ESPN and FX, with each telecast streaming on ESPN+.

The XFL’s two network showings on ABC averaged over 1.5 million viewers on opening weekend. The league won’t be back on ABC until Week 6 of the season on Sunday, March 26th.

In total, six of the XFL’s eight games have aired on cable.

The league’s first two cable telecasts in week one, a simulcast on ESPN and FX and a Sunday night game on ESPN alone, were ranked in the top ten out of 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 demographic. (8th and 6th respectively).

XFL 2023: Week Two TV Ratings

Thursday night’s 2/23 week two opening game on FX between the Seattle Sea Dragons and St. Louis Battlehawks averaged 524,000 viewers. The late-night telecast at 9 pm ET ranked eighth out of 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 Demo. During the game window, not including the post-game, the XFL telecast averaged 553,000 viewers. It was the most watched sports telecast on Thursday night across ESPN, ESPN2, and FX.

As a comparison point, the NHL game between Calgary and Vegas on ESPN head-to-head with the XFL averaged 253,000 viewers. Big 10 College Basketball on FS1 (Michigan-Rutgers) averaged 364,000 viewers.

Saturday Night’s 2/25 FX telecast featuring the D.C. Defenders at the Vegas Vipers averaged 605,000 viewers, combined with ESPN Deportes. The telecast was rated 12th out of 150 Cable TV Shows in the 18-49 Demo.

Sunday afternoon’s XFL game on ESPN between the San Antonio Brahmas and Orlando Guardians averaged 781,000 viewers. The telecast was ranked 9th out of 150 Cable TV Shows in the 18-49 demographic (0.28) The postgame show at 6:45 pm ET on ESPN leading into the evening game on ESPN2 averaged 954,000 viewers during that timeframe. Mitch Metcalf from Showbuzz Daily had that portion of the broadcast listed as fifth overall in the 18-49 demo on Sunday. (0.38)

The Week 2 XFL finale headlined by the Houston Roughnecks and Arlington Renedgaes Sunday night on ESPN2 averaged 678,000 viewers. The evening game was ranked 12th out of 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 demo. (0.24)

Week 2 Ratings Analysis

The measuring stick has changed since 2020. In the last few years, spring pro football on Cable TV has produced modest viewership numbers. Sometimes as low as five-digit viewership. Last May, The USFL in May averaged 207,000 viewers for a late-night game on FS1.

Between TSL, the USFL, and now XFL 2023. Even the CFL, which mostly airs games on non-ratings, monitored ESPNNews. The leagues have had varying success attracting viewership on Cable. For example, The 109th Grey Cup on ESPN2 back in November averaged 158,000 viewers.

The 18-49 showings are extremely positive. The first three XFL games on Cable were all in the top ten out of 150 TV shows. You’d like to keep that trend going. (More info will be provided soon on the remaining Week 2 games). Update* Saturday’s FX game was rated 12th, Sunday’s afternoon game was 9th, and the Week 2 finale Sunday evening was 12th in the 18-49 demo.

The XFL’s ESPN numbers are more than respectable. The FX situation could be touch and go. Definitely a work in progress that is certainly affected by every XFL game airing on ESPN+. That’s the other hidden factor in viewership now.

From a league standpoint, you hope that Saturday’s ugly showing of Vegas-DC is the low mark from an acclaim standpoint. The game overall was not a good look for the league that has slowly been building word of mouth.

XFL2023 is the opposite of XFL 2020. The second iteration went all out with promotion and marketing. They had ABC, FOX, and ESPN promoting the league heavily. A long with a fully staffed social media and promotional team in every market months in advance. Say what you will about Vince McMahon, but very few people in the history of entertainment are as good at hyping up an entity and brand building.

This XFL is taking a long-view approach, with a lot more barebones elements than its predecessor. Disney has a multi-year rights deal with XFL 2023. According to’s Anthony Crupi. The five-year pact is worth up to 150 million. By comparison, XFL 2020 operated under a no-pay distribution deal with two networks.

Time will tell how the league performs in building and maintaining a stable audience. But for now, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Week 3 TV Schedule

The XFL will have three out of four telecasts this coming weekend on FX. One Saturday night, and then a triple header of games starting Sunday at 1 pm with a double header on the FX network. The Week 3 finale between San Antonio and Houston will air at 8 pm on ESPN2.

Seattle Sea Dragons@Vegas VipersSaturday, March 4
7:00 PM ET
ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center
St. Louis Battlehawks@D.C. DefendersSunday, March 5
1:00 PM ET
ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center
Orlando Guardians@Arlington RenegadesSunday, March 5
4:00 PM ET
ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center
San Antonio Brahmas@Houston RoughnecksSunday, March 5
8:00 PM ET
ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes
ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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