It’s been less than a year that we’ve known about the new USFL, but with the inaugural season around the corner we’re seemingly starting to hear some of the league’s plans for the future.
Looking at the graveyard of spring football leagues, FOX and co. seem to be looking closely at what contributed to each not making it to a second championship. Generally, two of the biggest factors have been broadcasting and finding. The first of which is definitely under control with FOX holding a majority ownership in the USFL. Not to mention, the USFL has also signed a multi-year media rights deal with NBC which will see the debut game simulcast across both networks.
As for funding, FOX is putting in at least $150M to help cover costs for the first three seasons. Additionally, the league is taking a frugal approach to their first season by utilizing a central hub. All eight teams are set to play out of Birmingham, AL in 2022; and it’s been reported that the city could host as many as four for the second season.
Earlier this week FOX held their quarterly earnings call, in which there was a few mentions of the USFL. The most notable was around this very topic.
Fox CEO Murdoch: Outside investors in league have 'effectively underwritten' league for next two or three years. Co. is 'ambitious but disciplined' on its investment in USFL
— Brian Steinberg (@bristei) February 9, 2022
FOX CEO, Lachlan Murdoch, states that outside investors have ‘effectively underwritten’ the USFL for the next two or three years. We know that the league is getting funding from a couple groups in Birmingham, as well as from the deal with NBC; and those already seem to be paying dividends.
It’s also important to mention that the USFL is actively scouting potential owners for each of the franchises. In fact, it’s was reported that the USFL was considering Alex Rodriguez as an owner for the New Jersey Generals. Although it was never specified how those conversations concluded, or if they’re still ongoing.
Whether the league has secured any of the private owners yet or not, it’s an example of how FOX is taking a different approach. Looking back to the AAF and both iterations of the XFL, all of the teams were owned directly by the respective league’s.
Everything looks to be in order for season one, so much so that it seems that league executives are already partially working towards season two.
Earlier this week Brian Woods sat down with Tony Paul of the Detroit News to discuss the USFL and the upcoming Michigan Panthers. Even though the league is not actively playing in their host cities, that’s not stopping them from trying to expand their reach in those regions.
In the feature we potentially get some more insight on what FOX is planning location-wise for season two. In the leagues deal with Birmingham it was proposed that up to four teams could play there in 2023. But, it looks like the USFL is getting a little more ambitious.
According to Brian Woods, the goal is for all teams to move to their home markets by 2023. Additionally, he states that the league has been in preliminary talks with multiple venues in the Metro-Detroit area. He did also say that nothing is set in stone at the moment, so plans could change.
Woods said the goal would be for the teams to relocate to their actual markets for a second season, in 2023, but that’s not set in stone. The hub could remain, but if it doesn’t, Woods said there have been preliminary discussions about specific venues in Metro Detroit. He wouldn’t specify.
Up until now it was expected that the USFL may branch out with two hubs in 2023 and have all teams in their host cities by the third season. This seems to show that FOX is feeling more confident in their new product, and it hasn’t even hit the field yet.
Mike Mulvihill (EVP Strategy & Analytics – FOX Sports) joined OutKick 360 from Super Bowl Radio Row, and during the discussion the hosts brought up the upcoming USFL season. The group went over a variety of topics, all of which have been previously discussed. Ending things out though, Mulvihill ends things off with a very positive note on the league.
It’s going to be around for a while. We look forward to season two and beyond.
One thing’s for sure, FOX is confident in their new football league. They’re starting out small so they have the opportunity to build it up. Edward Hartman wisely stated that it’s a misconception that the last iteration of the XFL was a failure. He’s absolutely correct, and it looks like FOX is hoping to expand upon the success they saw when they were just a broadcast partner.
Last week on The USFL Podcast, the gang goes in depth on their thoughts on the USFL’s plans for the future. If you haven’t already, give it a listen.
What do you think the USFL will look like in season two? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.