Key Points:

  • UFL averaged 850,000 viewers in debut season, surpassing NHL viewership
  • League plans to invest in local sales teams to boost ticket sales
  • UFL aims to move more games to broadcast networks to maximize audience

UFL’s Successful Debut

Mollie Cahillane and Ben Fischer from Sports Business Journal, recently got some quotes from United Football League (UFL) higher ups as they talk about the successful debut season and what plans are in the works for season two. The article discusses the league’s strong viewership numbers, local sales teams growing, Friday night games on FOX and more.

Viewership Performance

The UFL has shown strong viewership in its debut season.

“While the UFL is still in its fledgling state, its viewership is already higher than sports in similar windows, such as the NHL. The hockey league averaged 504,000 viewers this regular season across ABC, ESPN and TNT, an eight-year high.” Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks commented on the viewership growth, saying, “When games matter, [viewership] pops. This is a prime example of broadcast television and being strategic with your scheduling, and that’s going to get better as time goes on.”

Advertising and Market Position

Despite the strong start, the UFL is still establishing its market position. Eric Shanks explained,

“Ratings are strong, especially considering where this is carving out its space, but the ratings aren’t big enough yet where this is its own individual upfront buy. In the Fox portfolio, it is an important part, and we spend a lot of time making sure we have packages that fit into the upfront market, but the UFL at this point is a part of the Fox portfolio, and it’s going to grow.”

The United Football league was not sold individually as part of FOX’s upfront a couple weeks ago. The league is not ready to stand on its own just yet, like other sports leagues on FOX or ESPN. That could change in 2025. Remember, Venu, the sports streaming platform planned by ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery is coming in the fall.

Ticket Sales Strategy

The UFL is focusing on improving ticket sales in its second season. UFL President and CEO Russ Brandon emphasized this priority,

“Clearly the point we’re investing in more is boots on the ground, selling tickets. We have a full season of some really successful markets, and markets that we clearly need to invest more in, and that’s what this partnership is going to do.”

The league plans to invest in local sales teams to boost attendance and develop a robust local event business. This is good for fans and season ticket holders as local events were very rare for the 2024 season. Having events during the NFL season will get fans thinking of football past the NFL season.

We are also hearing that the league is planning on keeping the end of March kick-off window.

Financial Outlook

The UFL’s financial situation is described as a work in progress. Eric Shanks provided insight into the league’s financial state:

“We’re on target with our business plan, but we’re definitely still in investment mode. In the business plan, each year there’s less cash investment that has to come in, and we’re on target for this thing being way more sustainable going into next season than it was going into the startup season. So we feel really good about it, and I think RedBird does, too.”

We never hear much from RedBird Capital on their view of the UFL in season two. From what we are hearing, FOX is primarily driving the UFL ship. We have heard that RedBird Capital people wanted to expand the league to 10 teams in 2024 while the FOX people did not. It looks like FOX got its way.

Overall, the article is positive on the UFL debut season. Cleary they were going to have better ratings being on Broadcast TV over Cable. If the UFL can be part of the FOX upfronts in 2025, that would be a huge win and a great sign that the league is here to stay.

This off season will be the first stable one we have had since these two leagues started back in 2020.

Help Us Improve!

We value your feedback and want to make the UFL News Hub better for you. Please take a moment to complete our survey and share your thoughts with us.

Thank you for your support!

author avatar
Mark Perry Editor
Mark Perry, a devoted sports journalist and founder of UFL News Hub, has been a key figure in XFL, USFL and UFL coverage since 2018.

Leave a comment

Sign Up Now

Become a member of our online community and get tickets to upcoming matches or sports events faster!
UFL News Hub