The resurrected USFL will play its championship game on Sunday. The Philadelphia Stars and the Birmingham Stallions will compete in that title game. The TV audiences for USFL games started strong but waned as the regular season progressed; nonetheless, FOX is hoping for a decent audience this weekend. Over the regular season, the USFL telecasts averaged 715,000 viewers.
That number stands in stark contrast to the TV numbers for the NFL or for major college football contests – – but FOX points out that the USFL is not competing against those juggernaut TV attractions. In reality, the USFL is competing against springtime sporting events after March Madness and The Masters are over. There are two categories of springtime sports starting in mid-April:
- Major sports include NBA regular season and playoffs, NHL regular season and playoffs and MLB
- Lesser sports include Formula One racing, English Premier League games and MLS games.
The USFL TV audiences are competitive with all the “Lesser sports” listed above and are even close to those of NHL regular season games. For me, the big question for USFL 2.0 is this:
- What will happen next year when XFL 3.0 shows up as a direct “spring football competitor” for USFL 2.0 with TV exposure on ESPN?
That question is interesting to me because just this week there were reports that FOX – which owns USFL 2.0 – has hired an investment firm to see if there are investors out there who would like to buy a piece of the league. Reports say that FOX wants something in the neighborhood of $150M – $200M for an unspecified percentage of the league. It seems to me that offer to sell part of the league can be taken several ways:
- FOX is worried about the competition from XFL 3.0 next year and wants to hedge its investment.
- FOX still sees USFL as an emerging property and has specific growth plans for the league that will benefit from an extra $200M or so in cash.
- Stay tuned…
Another report related to “football on TV” is that Amazon – which holds the rights to Thursday Night Football starting this year – has recently hired “vagabond QB”, Ryan Fitzpatrick to be an analyst on Amazon’s pregame show. Lest anyone think I am demeaning Fitzpatrick by referring to him as a “vagabond QB”, I use that term as a statement of fact. Fitzpatrick played in the NFL for 17 seasons on 9 different teams. He moved around so much that United Van Lines could have named him its Customer of the Decade.
Fitzpatrick will join Tony Gonzales and Richard Sherman on that program. There are reports that Marshawn Lynch is also in negotiations to be part of the presentation. Gonzales has studio show experience and it was positive experience; he should be a big plus for the Amazon program. Sherman is outspoken and articulate; if he does not go overboard in an attempt to be controversial about everything, he too should be a big plus. Fitzpatrick is a Harvard grad; his post-game press conferences as an NFL QB demonstrated that he is perfectly in command of the English language. I think this is a great step for him now that his playing career is over, and I think it is a good hire for Amazon.
If I may be so bold, let me offer Ryan Fitzpatrick one small suggestion:
- Trim the beard.
- Don’t shave it off but style it a bit.
- The “Wolfman look” is OK as a player; on TV – – not so much.
Serena Williams’ wild card slot in the Wimbledon Tournament ended unceremoniously with a first-round loss to the woman ranked 105th in the world at the time. I did not see the match but saw some highlights on You Tube after I read that Williams had lost in the first round. Williams is 40 years old and had not played serious competition since last year at Wimbledon; it showed. Serena Williams’ status in the world of tennis today is analogous to Tiger Woods’ status in golf. At one point, each of them was unarguably the best in the world at their sport; such is no longer the case. For now, Serena Williams appearances in any pro tennis tournament will make folks root for her to win just because of the greatness she has exhibited in the past; she is now tennis nostalgia. Time marches on…
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Raiders are now facing a series of lawsuits alleging harassment and retaliatory personnel actions in its Front Office over the past years. [Fans in Washington face to the west, tip their caps and say, “Welcome to our world.”] After being grilled by a Congressional Committee for more than two hours on the Washington situation, Roger Goodell needs this news like the Donner Party needed a master chef. However, just to show that no matter how bleak a situation might seem things can always get worse, allow me to present a horrendous idea:
- Have Mark Davis put in a call to Daniel Snyder seeking advice on how to handle this sort of thing …
Finally, I will close today with an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times from a while back:
“The Yankees cut outfielder Jake Sanford — a 2019 third-round pick — for allegedly pilfering equipment from his minor-league teammates and selling it online, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.
“That’s one way to lead the league in steals.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………