NNEW YORK The XFL, whose ratings on NBC have plummeted dramatically since a highly watched first week, finally reversed the trend.
NBC's rating of the Memphis-Chicago and Orlando-Las Vegas games on Saturday night had an overnight rating of 2.8, up one-tenth of a point from last week's 2.7.
The small improvement would have to be considered a disappointment coming after a much-hyped week of viewers being taken into an XFL cheerleaders locker room at halftime. The move, publicized by NBC in the week leading up to Saturday's games, was promoted as even further access in a league that prides itself on letting viewers in on what plays are about to be run and showing players and coaches interacting on the field and in the locker room.
But the foray into the cheerleaders' locker room ended up being mostly a canned segment, notable only by a cameo appearance of towel-clad Rodney Dangerfield, still getting no respect despite sharing a shower room with beautiful young women.
Still, Saturday marked the first time the TV ratings had increased since the league's debut last month, when it received a 10.3 rating. It then dropped to 5.1, 3.8, 2.9 and 2.7 in succeeding weeks.
NBC had guaranteed advertisers a 4.5 rating and has been providing extra free advertising for sponsors paying $140,000 for 30-second ads.
The rating is the percentage of TV households in the United States watching a broadcast.
The game on Feb. 24 between New York/New Jersey and Chicago had the second-lowest audience ever for a prime-time sports program, drawing a 2.6 national rating.
In an attempt to bolster those numbers, the league announced last week that it would concentrate less on wrestling-inspired gimmicks and broadcast booth hype and more on straight football.
In the two games Saturday, there was more offense than in previous weeks as two former backup quarterbacks for the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Druckenmiller and Jeff Brohm, led their teams to victory.
Druckenmiller threw for 413 yards in Memphis' 29-23 win over Chicago. Brohm passed for 235 as unbeaten Orlando clinched the Eastern Division with a 27-15 victory over Las Vegas. That represented an average of 47 points in the two games. In the first 20 XFL games, teams had averaged a combined 33 points.
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