The UFL kicked off its inaugural weekend on March 30-31 and the ratings have been announced. As expected, the highly anticipated battle between the Birmingham Stallions and the Arlington Renegades drew the highest TV audience with close to 2 million viewers for Fox Sports.

UFL Week 1 TV Ratings Overview

  • Saturday, March 30:
    • Birmingham Stallions vs. Arlington Renegades at 1 p.m. ET on FOX:
      • Viewers: 1.181 million
      • Peak Viewership: During this game, peak viewership reached 1.349 million between 3:30-3:45 p.m.
    • St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Michigan Panthers at 4 p.m. ET on FOX:
      • Viewers: 1.349 million
      • Peak Viewership: Peak viewership for this game was 1.689 million between 6:45-7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 31:
    • D.C. Defenders vs. San Antonio Brahmas at noon ET on ESPN:
      • Viewers: 960k
    • Memphis Showboats vs. Houston Roughnecks at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN:
      • Viewers: 703k

The well-publicized clash between the USFL / XFL league Champions featured several familiar returning players including Renegades quarterback, Luis Perez, the MVP of the Championship Game, and Stallions TE, Jace Sternberger. 

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1.34 million viewers were on hand to watch the Michigan Panthers defeat the St. Louis Battlehawks with a thrilling 64-yard field goal. Jake Bates the Panthers kicker, hadn’t kicked a field goal since high school but still managed to split the uprights, not just once, but twice after the Battlehawks called a time-out that negated the first kick. 

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Viewership was a bit lower for the Sunday ESPN games with both the San Antonio Brahmas / D.C. Defenders contest and the Memphis Showboats / Houston Roughnecks match each drawing under one million viewers. Although these viewership numbers pale in comparison to the NFL ratings, keep in mind that this particular weekend, the UFL competed for the viewing audience against the NCAA basketball tournament and Major League Baseball. 

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Despite competing against Caitlin Clark and her Iowa teammates for the TV viewing audience, the UFL ratings showed a nice increase over the average USFL and XFL ratings from a year ago. To put it into perspective, XFL games drew an average of 602,073 viewers throughout the season while the USFL had a slightly higher per-game average rating of 604, 175. 

Why are these early ratings important? Executives from ESPN and Fox are paying close attention to fan interest and engagement with the UFL. At a time when the demand for the NFL continues to grow with every season, networks recognize the value. Television and streaming platform ratings for the 2023-2024 NFL season increased another 9% last year prompting Amazon Prime to pay $150 million for the exclusive rights to televise a playoff game next year.

Both ESPN and FOX are paying close attention to these numbers and the expectation is with increased fan engagement and word of mouth, UFL ratings will continue to expand throughout the season. In the game of TV ratings, it’s not as important where you start but how much those numbers grow throughout the season.

author avatar
Sue Levine
Sue Levine spent the past five years creating and producing a successful weekly health and wellness podcast starring a wonderful iconic woman as the program host. As part of Sue's responsibilities, she scripted every episode and discovered a genuine love of writing. When the podcast ended late last year, she shifted the focus of her writing to covering pro sports. A passionate fan of NFL and UFL football as well as fantasy, she is delighted to be able to share her articles with other football fans.

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