You may seeing some signs of deterioration with the NFL. But this isn’t discouraging others from thinking that TV needs more professional football.
Vince McMahon, the wrestling impresario/CEO of WWE, is trying again -- with the XFL, which ran for one season in 2001. Why will it work this time? He says TV ratings don’t matter that much.
In a press interview, McMahon shared: “Even if ratings go down, there's no denying that live sports rights continue to be valuable and continue to deliver.”
To be clear, TV ratings still matter. TV shows -- whatever they are -- do get cancelled when numbers are low. The NFL is special, however. Even with 9% declines in TV ratings in the just-completed regular season, it still offers -- by far -- the highest TV average viewership.
In addition, NBC and CBS have gained strong results from prime-time NFL programming. They boosted promotion for other entertainment programming, giving TV stations/affiliates premium ad inventory to sell, and lifted overall viewership, especially when it came to live programming -- which now gets premium status with many TV advertisers.
McMahon wants to relaunch the league in 2020, which -- like the last time around -- will air in spring, when the NFL doesn’t. A 10-game season is starting in January, with eight teams and 40-man rosters.
Right now, McMahon isn’t worried that the XFL has no TV deals. Two decades after the first XFL try, there are many more viable competitors looking to buy in, he says -- including digital media players such as Amazon, Twitter, Facebook -- all competing for sports content.
What would be new? Well, you could probably tout a faster game (two-hour game limit), a fan “immersive” experience and higher engagement.
McMahon is doing it all himself, in a self-funded venture. Previously, it was a 50-50 deal between the World Wrestling Federation and NBC.
Don’t expect to see wild-looking wrestlers making crunching tackles or doing hefty end-zone dances. But perhaps there would be a few spots for sideline cheerleaders. Reusable wrestling costumes can go a long way.