If you haven’t heard already, the MLB has been stuck in a lockout with the MLBPA for over a month now, and if this keeps up, the baseball season may be postponed for a while.
Baseball labor update: There is no deal. There never was going to be one today. MLB made a proposal. The reaction among the players was not positive. Few on either side expected it to be. The question is how soon the MLBPA counters. Spring training starting on time is in peril.
Now, what does this mean for the USFL? Baseball shouldn’t affect spring football much at all, right? Well, that is not entirely true. Every sports league, while maintaining their own base of fans, are competing for views on television networks.
During the spring and early summer, the NHL, MLB, and NBA will all be airing matchups – and with the USFL’s return, they will be in that mix as well. The USFL will be broadcasting games on both NBC and Fox, starting in mid April and ending in late June.
📺 It's official!
NBC will join FOX Sports as our official broadcast partners.
With this in mind, the USFL may actually benefit from an MLB lockout, as baseball season will take longer than usual to get underway. This means that there will be less nationally televised sports during the USFL’s season, leaving baseball fans looking for something else when the MLB is not airing.
If the USFL is doing well, they may be able to attract those fans simply trying to find something enjoyable to watch. With less overall competition, the league will also be able to put up better numbers in general, and every sign points in the direction of success for the USFL.
For example, let’s take a quick look at the XFL’s numbers. In 2020, the XFL averaged over three million viewers in the first week:
Now, while those numbers did decrease as the season went on, the league still outperformed the NBA, MLB, and hockey by an impressive margin. For example, XFL games were drawing more viewers than primetime NBA matchups (i.e. Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia, and Toronto vs. Boston) in early 2020.
Clearly, the USFL has a great opportunity to bring spring football back, and in a big way. If the MLB is still struggling to get things started on time, that can only benefit the USFL moving forward into their debut season.
As long as FOX and NBC are able to market the league properly, the ratings should be comparable to what they were for the XFL in 2020 – but only time will tell.
Do you think the USFL will do well in ratings? How will it compare to the XFL? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!