It’s a mixed bag for the USFL this weekend. Two games were on cable networks, while the other two saw slots on OTA (FOX).
USFL TV Ratings Analysis
To begin with, let’s look at the cable TV ratings. Saturday afternoon’s matchup on USA Network notched only 227,000 viewers, which is par for the course for the channel. USA has struggled to generate viewership all season long, so this comes at no surprise.
An early start time on Saturday certainly plays a role. However, it’s unfortunate to see a game featuring a hub team (Memphis) score such a low rating.
FS1 has been quite inconsistent this season. Just a couple of weeks ago, it saw over 540k people tune in for Pittsburgh vs. Birmingham. This Sunday, Philadelphia vs. New Orleans garnered 217k, which is less than half. To be fair, NOLA & Philly are non-hub teams, so that plays a factor. In addition, a 12pm ET start time on Sunday isn’t ideal, either.
FOX continues to stay consistent, whether you like those numbers or not. With 732k on Saturday evening, and 630k on Sunday afternoon, it’s clear that FOX has found a zone that has stuck since week one. Birmingham’s matchup, once again, was the top rated game this weekend. While the TV Ratings for FOX aren’t bad by any means, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, as has been the case the entire season.
Cable has been a downfall for spring football across the board in 2023. Neither the XFL or USFL have generated incredible numbers on their respective cable networks (FS1, USA, FX, ESPN2).
Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Philadelphia Stars (NBC): 785,000 Birmingham Stallions vs. Michigan Panthers (NBC): 1.196M Pittsburgh Maulers vs. New Orleans Breakers (FS1): 281,000 Houston Gamblers vs. New Jersey Generals (FOX): 665,000
NBC seems to be the strongest channel for the USFL, as their numbers have consistently been the best for the league since returning in 2022. Week six last year performed at a higher level, largely due to the pull that NBC has.
In addition, Saturday night’s matchup between Michigan and Birmingham a season ago had a solid lead-in from the Preakness, which certainly played a role in 1.1M people tuning in.
Generally speaking, the USFL’s market has stayed in the same bracket. It hasn’t grown to the extent that some had hoped for in year two, but the numbers are relatively consistent across the board for each respective channel.
As long as FOX and NBC are pleased with the audience they’re seeing week in and week out, then the USFL will be just fine in that regard. That being said, it’d be a welcomed sight to see stronger numbers down the stretch – especially on cable.
Week seven will likely see a “dip”, as only one game will be featured on an OTA network.
What are your thoughts on the USFL TV Ratings from week six? Which games did you watch? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!