New Football League's Ratings Match NBA Game on ABC

The opening games of the new professional football league, the Alliance of American Football broadcast by CBS in primetime Saturday drew comparable ratings to its competition, a National Basketball Association game on ABC.

The games on CBS drew a 2.1 overnight rating and a 4 share in metered markets. The NBA game, pitting Oklahoma City Thunder against the Houston Rockets also drew a 2.1 ratings.

NFL football and college football account for most of the highest rated programs on TV. the new league is counting on some sports viewers till having a taste for football after the Super Bowl, Even so, having comparable ratings to an NBA game surprised some sports analysts.

The last big new football league, the XFL opened its first and only season with a big audience, drawing a 10.5 national rating on NBC, but as the season progressed, the rating petered out, averaging a 2 rating.

After opening night, most AAF games move to CBS Sports Network. Some AAF games will also appear on Turner’s TNT and on Bleacher Report. A playoff game and the championship game for the new football league will be broadcast by CBS.

The AAF was founded by producer Charlie Ebersol and NFL veteran executive Bill Polian. It has eight team and is playing a 10 week regular season.

The XFL is expected to return in February of 2020 backed by WWE head Vince McMahon. The XFL plans to have eight teams and a 10 week regular season, followed by two playoff games and a championship game. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.