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USFL TV ratings 2023: USFL beating XFL through Week 7

The United States Football League is back with the 2023 season kicking off on April 15. Just as we did last year, we’ll be tracking the USFL TV ratings for the entire season from Week 1 to the championship game.

April marks the return of the USFL, which launched in 2022. The league partnered with Fox and NBC to broadcast spring football in another effort to tap into the market for football during the NFL’s downtime. Based on its relative success last spring and the XFL’s numbers, many still believe there is a viable market for professional football in the spring and early summer.

Related: USFL games today, TV schedule

Plenty of things were done in 2022 to make spring football more entertaining. the USFL is using drones and helmet cameras to provide unique camera angles for viewers. Additionally, the league includes live audio from coaches’ communications and there are some well-known players. too.

The 2022 UFL season came two years after the XFL ceased operations midway through its first season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, the Alliance of American Football lasted for a few weeks in 2019 before it folded and went bankrupt.

Related: XFL TV ratings 2023

Bookmark this page for weekly updates on the USFL TV ratings and how its viewership compared to XFL TV ratings and AAF ratings. Here’s a quick rundown on the viewership totals from the 2022 season.

Latest USFL TV ratings – Week 7

Much like the XFL, the lowest USFL TV ratings come when its games are broadcasted on USA Network. In Week 7, the USFL had two games broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and one game seen on USA Network. As a result, it had its lowest net ratings of the season.

  • Birmingham Stallions vs New Orleans Breakers – FOX – 703,000 avg. viewers
  • New Jersey Generals vs Michigan Panthers – FS1 – 274,000 avg. viewers
  • Houston Gamblers vs Memphis Showboats – USA – 251,000 avg. viewers
  • Philadelphia Stars vs Pittsburgh Maulers – 161,000 avg. viewers

Is the USFL having good ratings?

Yes, the USFL TV ratings are very good through the first week of the season. The most-watched USFL game in 2023 averaged over 2 million viewers and its consistently beating the average audience size of the XFL in 2023.

FOX pulls in strong audience for Week 6

The USFL’s primary broadcasting partner, FOX, continues to receive favorable ratings thus far in 2023. In comparison to the XFL, which primarily partnered with ABC and ESPN, FOX is pulling in stronger numbers and Week 6 is another example.

  • Birmingham Stallions vs Michigan Panthers – FOX – 732,000 avg. viewers
  • Houston Gamblers vs New Jersey Generals – FOX – 630,000 avg. viewers
  • Pittsburgh Maulers vs Memphis Showbirds – USA – 227,000 avg. viewers
  • Philadelphia Stars vs New Orleans Breakers – FS1 – 217,000 avg. viewers

USFL TV ratings – Week 5

  • Birmingham Stallions vs Houston Gamblers – FOX – 914,000 avg. viewers
  • Philadelphia Stars vs New Jersey Generals – NBC – 757,000 avg. viewers
  • New Orleans Breakers vs Memphis Showboats – FOX – 563,000 avg. viewers
  • Pittsburgh Maulers vs Michigan Panthers – 256,000 avg. viewers

Week 4 USFL ratings

Here are the television ratings for the United States Football League from Week 4.

  • Memphis Showbirds vs Michigan Panthers – NBC – 2.06 million avg. viewers
  • New Jersey Generals vs New Orleans Breakers – NBC – 828,000 avg. viewers
  • Birmingham Stallions vs Pittsburgh Maulers – FS1 – 545,000 avg. viewers
  • Philadelphia Stars vs Houston Gamblers – FOX – 521,000 avg. viewers

USFL TV ratings for Week 3

Going head-to-head with the XFL playoffs, there was reason to believe the United States Football League might lose a portion of its audience this past weekend. Neither league has cracked 1 million viewers since they started competing against one another and with the NBA and NHL playoffs ongoing, the audience size for spring football hasn’t matched the 2022 totals. However, Week 3 of the USFL season fared reasonably well under the circumstances.

  • NO Breakers vs Birmingham Stallions – USA Network – 293,000 avg. viewers
  • Houston Gamblers vs Memphis Showboats – FOX – 776,000 avg. viewers
  • Pittsburgh Maulers vs Philadelphia Stars – NBC – 761,000 avg. viewers
  • NJ Generals vs Michigan Panthers – FOX – 563,000 avg. viewers

Across the four broadcasts, the USFL averaged 598,250 viewers in Week 3, beating out the audience for the XFL’s playoffs (576,500). Furthermore, the USFL had the two most-watched games this past weekend.

USFL television ratings – Week 2

Syndication: Canton Repository
Kevin Whitlock / Massillon Independent / USA TODAY NETWORK

Competing head-to-head against the NBA playoffs and the final week of the XFL’s regular season, the USFL and its broadcasting partners drew a modest audience last weekend. Unsurprisingly, viewership dropped rather significantly from the USFL’s regular-season openers.

  • Birmingham Stallions vs Memphis Showboats – FOX – 798,000 avg. viewers
  • NJ Generals vs Pittsburgh Maulers – NBC – 725,000 avg. viewers
  • Philadelphia Stars vs Michigan Panthers – FS1 – 211,000 avg. viewers
  • Houston Gamblers vs NO Breakers – USA Network – 133,00 avg. viewers

Broadcasts on the major networks – NBC and FOX – still did reasonably well, even surpassing the XFL’s average audience on ESPN (519,500) for Week 10. However, the USFL also had the least-watched game (Gamblers vs Breakers), a result of the game being broadcasted on USA Network.

Unsurprisingly, viewership dipped several points from Week 1 and the totals from this past weekend fall well short of the TV ratings for Week 2 in the USFL last year. Things should improve slightly when the XFL playoffs end, but the USFL’s audience is unlikely to eclipse 900,000 until then.

Week 1 USFL TV ratings

USFL: Pittsburgh Maulers at New Orleans Breakers
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The USFL launched its second season over the weekend, competing directly against the 2023 NBA Playoffs and Week 9 of the XFL season. With a majority of sports fans tuned into the playoffs, the XFL and USFL each drew a smaller audience.

  • Memphis Showboats vs Philadelphia Stars – FOX – 837,000 avg. viewers
  • Birmingham Stallions vs New Jersey Generals – FOX – 864,000 avg. viewers
  • Houston Gamblers vs Michigan Panthers – NBC – 974,000 avg. viewers
  • New Orleans Breakers vs Pittsburgh Maulers – FS1 – 483,000 avg. viewers

A year after the USFL debuted with two games averaging nearly 1.5 million viewers, the 2023 season got off to a far worse start. Even with three games broadcasted on top networks, none of the Week 1 matchups in USFL cracked 1 million average viewers. It looks even worse in comparison to the XFL, which averaged over 1 million viewers in its Week 1 slate.

However, competing directly against the NBA playoffs and XFL season played a direct result in the totals. From a positive perspective, the USFL drew a higher audience in its head-to-head time slot matchups with the XFL, but the decline in viewership is still concerning. TV ratings tend to dip after the first week, so we’ll see how the USFL fares this upcoming weekend as it still battles against the NBA playoffs and XFL.

USFL TV ratings 2022 recap

Here’s a quick rundown of the USFL television ratings last season. You can find a more detailed week-by-week breakdown further below, with some additional commentary from early in the 2022 season. For the 2023 season, Sportsnaut will also track the USFL attendance.

  • USFL Championship Game – FOX – 1.52 million average views
  • USFL Playoffs – Philadelphia Stars vs New Jersey Generals – FOX – 960,000 avg. viewers
  • USFL Playoffs – NO Breakers vs Birmingham Stallions – NBC 1 million avg. viewers
  • USFL regular season – FOX, NBC – 715,000 avg. viewers across 10 weeks

USFL Championship game ratings

Syndication: Canton Repository
Kevin Whitlock / Massillon Independent / USA TODAY NETWORK

The inaugural USFL Championship Game drew a matchup between the Birmingham Stallions and the Philadelphia Stars. Fittingly for a matchup between the best teams in the USFL, it came down to the final minutes. Broadcasted on Fox, it seems plenty of fans tuned in for the finale.

In 2022, the USFL championship game averaged 1.52 million viewers with a 0.1 rating. Also noteworthy, Fox’s “United by Football: A Season in the USFL” averaged 720,000 viewers, a rather impressive market considering the context of the broadcast.

Week 10 USFL TV ratings – 2022

Here are the television ratings from Week 10 of the 2022 USFL schedule.

  • Saturday afternoon (USA) – NJ Generals vs Philadelphia Stars – 290,000 avg. viewers
  • Saturday evening (FOX) – Birmingham Stallions vs TB Bandits – 649,000 avg. viewers
  • Sunday noon (USA) – Michigan Panthers vs Pittsburgh Maulers – 282,000 avg. viewers
  • Sunday evening (FS1) – NO Breakers vs Houston Gamblers – 181,000 avg. viewers

USFL TV Ratings in Week 9

  • Sat. afternoon (NBC) – NJ Generals vs Michigan Panthers – 815,000 avg. viewers
  • Sat. evening (USA) – Birmingham Stallions vs Houston Gamblers – 350,000 avg. viewers
  • Sun. afternoon (Fox) – NO Breakers vs Tampa Bay Bandits – 742,000 avg. viewers
  • Sun. evening (FS1) – Pittsburgh Maulers vs Philadelphia Stars – 389,000 viewers

USFL TV ratings – Week 8

Here are the USFL TV ratings from Week 8 of the 2022 season.

  • Friday evening (USA) – NJ Generals vs Pittsburgh Maulers – 210,000 avg. viewers
  • Sat. afternoon (Fox) – Birmingham Stallions vs NO Breakers – 630,000 avg. viewers
  • Sun. afternoon (Fox) – Philadelphia Stars vs Michigan Panthers – 773,000 avg. viewers

Week 7 television ratings

Here are the official television ratings from Week 7 in 2022.

  • Saturday (USA) – NJ Generals vs Tampa Bay Bandits – 230,000 avg. viewers
  • Saturday (FS1) NO Breakers vs Michigan Panthers – 270,000 avg. viewers
  • Sunday (FOX) – Birmingham Stallions vs Pittsburgh Maulers – 830,000 avg. viewers

USFL TV ratings rise in Week 6

A week after the USFL saw its ratings and audience size dip, things rebounded nicely in Week 6. As the 2022 season rolls on, the league is doing a relatively nice job holding a sizable audience for its inaugural season despite not having extensive media coverage.

  • Saturday (NBC) – Tampa Bay Bandits vs Philadelphia Stars – 785,000 avg. viewers
  • Saturday (NBC) – Birmingham Stallions vs Michigan Panthers – 1.196 million avg. viewers
  • Sunday (Fox Sports 1) – Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Orleans Breakers – 281,000 avg. viewers
  • Sunday (Fox) – New Jersey Generals vs Houston Gamblers – 665,000 avg. viewers

USFL Week 5 delivers massive drop in TV ratings

Here are the USFL TV ratings from Week 5 during the 2022 season.

  • Friday – Michigan Panthers vs Tampa Bay Bandits on USA – 250,000 avg. viewers
  • Saturday – New Orleans Breakers vs New Jersey Generals on Fox – 734,000 avg viewers
  • Sunday – Birmingham Stallions vs Philadelphia Stars on NBC – 905,000 viewers
  • Sunday – Pittsburgh Maulers vs Houston Gamblers on Fox –692,000 avg. viewers

USFL ratings show positive signs in Week 4

While the USFL is still competing against the NBA Playoffs, things are looking a bit better for the league as the 2022 season progresses and viewership holds steady. While Week 4 wasn’t the most exciting slate, it proved to be worthwhile for the league’s TV partners.

  • Friday 10 PM slot – Michigan Panthers vs Philadelphia Stars on Fox Sports 1 – 207K avg. viewers
  • Saturday 7 PM slot – Birmingham Stallions vs TB Bandits on Fox – 1.051 million avg viewers
  • Sunday afternoon – Houston Gamblers vs New Orleans Breakers on NBC – 1.159 million avg. viewers

While there is a dip in viewership for the game on Fox Sports 1, Fox saw its viewership hold steady and NBC will surely walk away fairly pleased with its 1.159 million average viewers. For comparison, NBC’s coverage of the Chicago White Sox vs Boston Red Sox game on Sunday morning (11:30 AM EST) drew 1.295 million viewers

USFL Week 3 competes against NFL Draft

USFL: New Jersey Generals at Philadelphia Stars
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

When the USFL launched in the spring, it knew the time would come when it had to compete against the NFL Draft. While plenty of hardcore football fans tuned in to see who their teams would select in Rounds 4-7, the USFL still fared decently with its Week 3 slate. While the afternoon game didn’t crack 1 million, the Saturday night game did.

  • Saturday, April 30 – Tampa Bay Bandits vs Houston Gamblers (FOX) 825,000 viewers
  • Saturday, April 30 – Birmingham Stallions vs New Orleans Breakers (FOX) – 1.144 million
  • Sunday, May 1 – Michigan Panthers vs Pittsburgh Maulers (USA) – 292,000 viewers

USFL TV ratings drop but end up better than EPL and NHL

Week two in the USFL offered a couple of high-scoring shootouts on Saturday, April 24, sandwiched in between a pair of less exciting outings from the league’s teams on Friday and Sunday. In the game of the week, the Birmingham Stallions moved to 2-0 with a 33-28 win over the Houston Gamblers. While on the same day, interstate rivals the Pittsburgh Maulers and Philadelphia Star duked it out in a closely contested 30-23 game won by the Stars.

Related: NFL TV ratings

The high offensive output actually led to some solid TV ratings for the league on Saturday. The Maulers vs Stars game earned 1.056 million viewers on Fox. Those numbers, combined with the USFL’s other games this weekend were actually better than Premier League coverage on NBC and NHL action on ABC this past weekend.

The Sunday, April 25 afternoon matchup between the New Orleans Breakers and Tampa Bay Bandits only pulled in 812,000 for NBC. While the Saturday action offered decent numbers, it was still the peak of viewers for the league over the second week of the season.

NBC, Fox split 2.95 million viewers in USFL 2022 debut

USFL: New Jersey Generals at Birmingham Stallions
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 USFL season kicked off on Saturday, April 16 with a matchup between the Birmingham Stallions and New Jersey Generals. It turned into a captivating game with big plays early and it came down to the wire with a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds.

This game also marked a rare moment for sports television. For the first time since 2007 – when CBS and NBC broadcasted a Week 17 contest between the New England Patriots and New York Giants – two major TV networks televised the same sporting event. Because of the split distribution, Fox and NBC split the USFL TV ratings.

According to Programming Insider, the Stallions vs Generals game averaged 2.95 million viewers with a 0.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic. NBC came out slightly ahead in terms of total viewership, but each network received a 0.4 rating.

  • USFL ratings on NBC: 1.52 million
  • USFL ratings on Fox: 1.43 million

It’s important to put those numbers in context against competition from other pro sports. According to Sports Media Watch, the largest audience for the 2022 NBA Play-in Tournament came on Thursday, April 14 when TNT averaged 2.7 million viewers for an elimination game between the Los Angeles Clippers vs Minnesota Timberwolves. Meanwhile, the play-in game matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers vs Brooklyn Nets averaged 2.48 million viewers.

Collectively, the USFL’s kickoff game performed better and seemingly shows potential for a market in the spring for live football. However, the ratings being split across two networks and a comparison to the CFL isn’t favorable for the USFL.

USFL attendance totals highlight another problem

USFL: Houston Gamblers at Michigan Panthers
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

While the USFL Week 1 ratings were touted by the league, there is a different issue regarding interest in spring football. According to WBRC 6, the USFL distributed approximately 40,000 tickets for its opening game with the hope fans would come in droves for some live football in April.

Instead, roughly 17,500 people showed up to watch the game in person. It was apparent during the broadcast with cameras angles catching sections of open seating and gaps in aisles between spectators. Competitive games helped keep fans inside the stadium, but that only lasts for so long.

In the Week 1 Sunday doubleheader, things looked even worse with huge portions of the stands just vacant chairs. On the opening weekend, the USFL’s popularity in its host city doesn’t seem to be there right now.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of work to be done. The USFL ratings were acceptable for an opening weekend, but they ended up dipping, unfortunately. If it isn’t balanced with improving attendance, that spells trouble considering what happened to the AAF and XFL as we explain further.

Comparing USFL TV ratings to XFL, AAF

XFL: Dallas Renegades at LA Wildcats
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Viewership is always high when a pro league debuts. We’ve seen that on full display with the XFL, AAF and it’s very likely the USFL fits into that category.

The XFL kicked off its 2020 season days after the Super Bowl, wanting to take advantage of fans still hungry for more football. It received strong ratings in its debut with 3.3 million viewers tuning in for the kickoff game on ABC, per Pro Football Talk.

While the AAF didn’t have as much fanfare as the XFL, given it was a startup without a brand name people recognized, it performed well in 2019. The AAF kickoff game drew 2.9 million viewers for CBS in February 2019. In both instances, like with the USFL ratings, it competed with the NBA.

Unfortunately, these leagues often see a dip in viewership after the first weeks. Many fans check it out and with players they don’t recognize competing with teams they have no connection with, it becomes an easy decision to turn off the game and wait elsewhere.

In Week 5 of the XFL season, ratings dipped below 1 million average viewers. It proved to be the final games for the league thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for the AAF, which partnered with CBS Sports Network and NFL Network after Week 1, ratings steadily plummeted before the league folded.

Fox is invested in the USFL right now, which provides the network with an incentive to keep the league going. There is also a heavier dependency on the television audience because all eight USFL teams are playing in Birmingham, Alabama. With crowd sizes likely to decline, USFL TV ratings need to be high for the league to survive. We’ll see if they find a way to avoid the audience dip that sunk those before them.

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