World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon made news on Thursday by announcing the return of the XFL. McMahon oversaw the first and only season of the XFL when it made its initial debut back in 2001.
The league which started off with extremely high viewer rating at the start, but sharply declined as the weeks went on and led to a financial failure. With league play set to start in 2020, McMahon and the XFL will have many new assets available that could lead to the league having more success this time around.
The advent of social media has vastly changed the way sporting events are viewed now. Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat have led to constant access and viewership to any game that is being played. When the XFL aired in 2001, its access was limited to just NBC, NBC’s network partners, and the XFL website.
Word of mouth on Twitter and Facebook has increased rating for any national sporting event whenever the event is competitive or controversial. Highlights and promotions via the social media platform have enabled many sports and their teams to develop more and more fans and could do the same for the XFL.
Sports gambling as grown as well in the last two decades with it becoming more mainstream with the success of online gambling sites and apps. Bovada, Sports Betting, and Bet Online now allow you to bet on any professional game worldwide. Public views have changed on gambling with many believing that it will soon be legalized either by the major sports or the US government.
Bovada has gone as far as providing money lines for spring training baseball and pre-season NFL games. With another football league, it would be tough for any betting parlor to not offer odds for XFL games and the betting action would only increase viewership for the league.
Another sports field that has grown successful and become mainstream has been fantasy sports. Back in 2001, fantasy sports popularity was limited to just a small section of NFL fans.
In 2018, every major American sports features some form of a fantasy league for fans with TV channels, radio stations, and websites dedicated to daily coverage. The XFL did not have any form of a fantasy league to attract fans and viewers in 2001 to add interest to their games. For the NFL, fans will watch any game even with the outcome already decided just to see if a player on their fantasy team can pick up points in garbage time.
For the WWE, one thing they have done as a business since 2001 has been successfully promoting their brand.
What once was a regional wrestling promotion in the mid-80’s has become a billion-dollar global entity 30 years later. McMahon, when he takes his time and researches a market thoroughly, has been successful advertising and promoting his events. WrestleMania has become a national event every year even getting attention mass attention and publicity from ESPN the last few years.
If former NFL talent comes to the XFL in 2020, it would be hard to imagine McMahon and his team being unable to hype up the games. Image the lead-up and publicity a game pitting quarterbacks Tim Tebow against Johnny Manziel would garner.
With the league still two years away from kicking off, it is hard to predict what the sports landscape will be line. The different outlets listed about have affected sports viewership for the better over the past few years. The XFL will never be a true threat to the NFL, but these recent fields allows the league to stay prominent and newsworthy to create a fan base of its own.
A lot has changed in sports consumption over the 16 years since the XFL has been away, but those changes may be what the league was missing back in 2001.