It appears as though the XFL has learned from the mistakes made by the now-defunct Alliance of American Football during its brief run of relevance.
The XFL announced it has entered multi-year agreements to broadcast its games on the ESPN and FOX Sports family of networks. Games will air weekly on broadcast television (FOX and ABC), as well as cable (ESPN, ESPN2, and FOX Sports 1). The 10-week season is set to kick off on Saturday, February 8, 2020 and will feature teams in Washington D.C., Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Seattle, and St. Louis. Playoffs are scheduled to begin in April 2020, with the championship game slated to be played on Sunday, April 26, 2020 and played on ESPN.
Having the games on over-the-air networks such as FOX and ABC should allow for the league to generate the type of exposure the AAF failed to conjure up earlier in 2019. The Alliance aired just two of its prime-time games on CBS, with the rest landing on the less-accessible CBS Sports Network. At minimum, this play by the XFL allows the league to market itself to cord-cutters could who want football year-round, but don’t want to carry a cable package just to watch games when the up-start league when it opens its doors next February.
The Alliance of American Football was a good idea that didn’t have the traction to make it through an entire season. Part of its failure could be attributed to a lack of major-network television exposure. Because even though the AAF had a partnership with CBS, the games weren’t as accessible as they could have been because they weren’t concentrated on the network’s main channel. Credit XFL Chairman Vince McMahon for avoiding an issue that could have easily sunk his league. The XFL still has a ways to go before it establishes itself, but partnering with ESPN and FOX Sports looks like a good start.