XFL announces 'appointment viewing' TV deal with ESPN, Fox

XFL announces 'appointment viewing' TV deal with ESPN, Fox

The XFL on Monday announced multi-year agreements with ESPN and Fox Sports to televise the new football league’s games starting with its inaugural 2020 season.

The league will kick off in February 2020 with teams in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington. The XFL’s first season is scheduled to begin Saturday, Feb. 8, the weekend after Super Bowl 54 is played in South Florida and the week before the 2020 College Football Playoff championship is scheduled to be played in New Orleans.

“The XFL broadcast schedule provides us with incredible reach and makes it easy for fans to watch our games consistently every weekend,” XFL founder and chairman Vince McMahon said in a statement (via ESPN).

Games will air weekly on broadcast TV (ABC and Fox) complemented by games on cable (ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2).

The schedule calls for back-to-back games beginning at 2 p.m. ET each Saturday and two more games on Sunday afternoons, the first games also starting at 2 p.m., a schedule that ESPN says in its press release “allows for consistent appointment view each week.”

“We look forward to showcasing the XFL on ESPN and ABC, including the kickoff game and championship during the league’s inaugural season,” ESPN executive VP Burke Magnus said in a statement. “Vince McMahon and (league commissioner) Oliver Luck are two of the sports industry’s most creative and experienced leaders, and they have exciting plans for this league. We believe in their vision for the XFL, which will be a great addition to our year-round commitment to football.”

“We welcome the XFL to the FOX Sports family and are pleased to expand our relationship with Vince McMahon. Football is in FOX Sports’ DNA and a key component of our programming strategy,” Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks said in a statement.

The XFL’s first season will come approximately a year after another new professional sports league launched — and ceased operation before its first regular season was complete.

The Alliance of American Football, which folded with two weeks remaining in its inaugural season this year, launched with its games carried via CBS Sports and Charlie Ebersol, the son of late NBC Sports executive Dick Ebersol, and longtime NFL executive Bill Polian in charge of the eight-team league.

The AAF, saddled with cash-flow issues, dissolved in a storm of claims and counter-claims among league investors, executives, coaches, players and even game venues.