Vince McMahon is rolling the dice a second time on the XFL. The WWE CEO and Chairman confirmed speculation earlier today during a press session with members of the media.
According to McMahon, the league will begin play in 2020 and consist of eight teams, with forty players on each roster. The plan is to introduce a ten game regular season, starting in late January or early February, and feature two semifinal playoff games, and one championship contest. The cities where each franchise will be play and the broadcast outlets where the games will air have not yet been decided.
Given his involvement with the WWE, many assumed McMahon would use the wrestling company’s talent and mainstream appeal to create buzz for his new football league. However, he said the league will look and operate different from the one that launched in 2001. Part of that includes not involving WWE stars in the XFL’s programming and promotional plans. Broadcast talent from the wrestling company will also not be utilized. McMahon says he’s looking to create separation between the two brands, and made the point on numerous occasions that the new XFL will be more family friendly than reliant on aggressive language, stunts, sex,and violence.
One of the decisions which is likely to garner heavy media attention was McMahon’s announcement that players with arrest records would not be hired by the league, and all who participate will stand for the national anthem.
“We want to entertain — that’s what we do,” McMahon told The Daily. “There are not going to be any politics involved with this thing. We’re not going to have any social issues involved. People want to be entertained. It’s the entertainment value that sometimes is lost.”
To make the XFL a reality, McMahon is funding the league through Alpha Entertainment, a private equity company he recently created to fund sports and entertainment opportunities. The company will start with $100 million in funding, but McMahon believes it will require going beyond that number to deliver a successful product.
“This is an opportunity to re-imagine football — not reinvent it,” added McMahon. “Sitting in front of a television for three-and-a-half hours for a game is a lot of time to devote. We want a faster game. We want a more exciting game. We want rules that are simplified. In the end, we want it to be more fan friendly with more engagement.”
Among the ideas being discussed for the new league are eliminating halftime, simplifying the rule book, and producing a game from start to finish in two-hours and with less commercials breaks. To get a stronger understanding of what fans want, McMahon says he will be involved in upcoming listening tours asking fans, football experts and media figures to come up with the best way to stage football games. The WWE promoter plans this time to remain in the background rather than appear as the face of the league, even if he is the sole owner and founder of it.
To see the new logo for the league, click here.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.