Fans of baseball are quite displeased right now, and for good reason; as the MLB’s season is in major jeopardy. The league has been unable to close a new deal with the MLBPA, meaning that baseball will not be starting on time – and it may not begin at all.
Rob Manfred, Commissioner of the MLB, is largely to blame. His actions during the offseason are what caused this lockout to occur, and he refuses to effectively mend the wounds. Due to this, the MLB has canceled its first two series, and the odds of more games being postponed/canceled are quite high.
MLB has canceled the first two series of the season.
As the MLB continues to deal with this debacle, many are wondering how the league can even salvage the predicament at this point. If baseball fans do not have any baseball to watch, they might look to other places for entertainment – and there is no guarantee that they would return.
MLB hasn’t had a work stoppage since 1994. The world has changed a lot since then. There are so many more ways for people to entertain themselves in 2022 than in 1994. If you give people the chance to find something else to do, there’s no guarantee they’ll come back.
This back-and-forth has been at a stand still for months, as we wrote a piece on the topic back in January. During that article, we discussed that; if the MLB was unable to play as usual, the USFL could take advantage of the situation.
Now that this potential development has become a reality, let’s take a deeper look as to what this all means for the USFL moving forward.
Impact On Viewership
While all sports have their own niche, and a group of loyal fans, there are plenty of viewers who are simply searching for something to enjoy. The NBA, MLB, NHL, and others are all competing for numbers on TV networks as their seasons coincide with each other, at least to an extent.
If the MLB is out of the picture, then millions of baseball fans will be up for grabs. Granted, some of them might not watch any sports at all – but there are plenty who will want something else to entertain themselves with.
With the USFL starting up in mid-April, the league has a golden opportunity to take center stage during the spring and early summer, with less sports being nationally televised. NBC and FOX have both already signed broadcasting deals with the USFL, as the networks will be splitting the 43 total games between their respective stations.
📺 It's official!
NBC will join FOX Sports as our official broadcast partners.
An important question surrounding the world of spring football is: can they maintain a stable viewership? Previous knowledge of spring football leagues would say yes. The XFL, in 2020, was performing incredibly well, giving both the MLB and the NBA a run for their money. In fact, the opening week averaged well over three million viewers, showing they could compete with the “big dogs” despite being brand new.
These numbers are right around what the second round of the NBA playoffs did last year, and a little better than averages for MLB's Division Series round. And it's a little better than the AAF's first week too.
Even The Spring League, who hardly advertised at all, averaged almost 200,000 viewers on FOX/FS1/FS2 during their 2021 season. The TSL Championship game saw over 400,000 people tune in, a large number for a league that very few people really knew about.
(Additional numbers courtesy of FOX PR)
•Across FOX/FS1/FS2: The Spring League averaged 181,000 viewers during this past season.
•On FS1/FS2: TSL telecasts averaged 81,000 viewers for the 2021 season, up 170% over last year’s full season average of 30,000 viewers on FS1.
As for the USFL, they should be able to match the XFL’s numbers, considering they are putting much more money and effort into advertising compared to the TSL. With the recent news surrounding the MLB’s failure to reach a new deal, the league might just see their numbers skyrocket as the season begins.
The USFL has been actively advertising on both FOX and NBC, gaining recognition across those platforms. FOX especially has pushed the USFL during its primetime airings, such as giving the league features and promos during NASCAR races. If the organization continues to promote itself in an effective manner, great things will be in store for the entity as a whole.
If FOX and NBC play their cards right, the USFL could set some historic landmarks in the world of spring football. Coming off of their draft just a week ago, the league gained hundreds of thousands of followers across social media platforms, which will help boost viewership once the season starts. Only time will tell – but as of right now, the future is as bright as could be for the USFL.
Do you think the USFL will see large numbers of viewers in the spring? How will the MLB’s status impact the league moving forward? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!