By ratings, the USFL is the quintessential spring football league. It has come in like a lion and it goes out like a lamb.
Two playoff games that were broadcast on three-letter television, generated mean 957,000 viewers for the afternoon game on Fox and 998,000 viewers for the evening game on NBC.
The first game of the season, played on a Saturday night in April, made a splash. combined 3.07 million on Fox and NBC.
Even though two semi-final games were played at the end of June, the inability to honestly beat the seven-figure sum can be called a disappointment. And while the games certainly fared well compared to other televised sports events this past weekend, USFL games have received placement on the mainstream networks.
The true value of the USFL comes from the difference between the ratings of FOX and/or NBC with spring football and the ratings of what was televised in the same window on the same weekend a year ago. While people no longer use traditional over-the-air networks like they once did, the big networks can count on baseline viewership—regardless of what they broadcast.
The USFL did well enough to return for another season. How many more seasons will there be? This is a decision that will likely be made one season at a time.
In the meantime, it would be helpful if the USFL could get at least a million to watch Sunday night’s championship game on Fox.