The USFL: Can It Be Successful?
With the development and explosion of new markets, expansion teams and new leagues have been coming to the entertainment forum in droves. One that is gaining especially large traction and momentum is the revamped and revived United States Football League, or USFL. Originally, the USFL was an 18-team spring football league that was founded in 1982, but folded shortly later in 1986. Now, in an effort to provide a stable secondary league to the NFL, Fox Sports has invested around $150 million into the first three years of operations of the newly rebooted league. This league will feature 8 teams, split into North and South divisions. The first game of this new league was on April 16th, which aired on FOX and NBC, making it the first sporting event aired on competing networks since Super Bowl I in 1967. FOX Sports will make a pointed effort to not have the league fail by running out of money too soon, and one of these measures will be having all of the games in the first season being played in Birmingham, Alabama.
This league hopes to bring an exciting new entertainment level to spring professional football leagues while also providing players a springboard to make it to the NFL. Sports betting, TV revenue, and the overall economy of Birmingham will all benefit from the conception of the USFL. It could prove to be a revolutionary model if it can make it past the initial stages and into an annual league. However, if the USFL does well and makes it to its second year, it will be competing against another league making a comeback, the XFL. The could throw a notch in things because if one spring league is questionable to survive, then how would two? Nevertheless, the USFL does have the advantage as they already have players, eliminating many prospects for XFL teams. The league will also be a great test run for referees, rule changes, and new technology for the NFL. Certain things like unique camera angles and data driven analytics will allow the NFL to try revolutionary things on a smaller, less risky level.
Overall, the USFL should provide a unique fan experience and a better model for players to get to the National Football League. So far, the league is two weeks in and looking at viewership to try and improve all aspects of the games week by week. It should be fun to see how the USFL works out, and if it can provide a blueprint for future spring professional football leagues.