NEW YORK The XFL is losing viewers at a staggering rate.
The fledgling football league NBC-TV jointly owns with the World
Wrestling Federation lost another quarter of its television
audience on the network, according to preliminary Week 3 ratings,
after a 50 percent drop the previous week.
Most significant, viewership fell below what sponsors were
promised when they bought ad time.
And that bad news comes despite a tight game that wasn't decided
until the final play, with the Los Angeles Xtreme beating the Las
Vegas Outlaws 12-9 on a last-second field goal.
The preliminary overnight rating for Saturday night's XFL
broadcast on NBC was 3.8, meaning an average of 3.8 percent of
television homes in the country's largest 49 markets were tuned in
at any given time.
That represents a 25.5 percent decline from last Saturday's
overnight rating (5.1), and a 63 percent fall from the debut
When the full national ratings are released later in the week,
the news probably will be even worse.
The national ratings for NBC's first two XFL telecasts dropped
between 7.5 percent and 10 percent from the overnight numbers. A
similar fall would leave the Week 3 national rating somewhere
between 3.4 and 3.5 well short of the 4.5 rating advertisers were
guaranteed their commercials would reach.
Each rating point represents a little more than 1 million TV
Repeating a pattern from the first two games, the audience
either decreased or was flat for each half-hour from 8 p.m. to 10
p.m. ET on Saturday, before getting a lift during the last hour.
There was noticeably less WWF influence and promotion during the
Week 3 program, while rule changes instituted to speed the games
worked. The show ended right at 11 p.m., about 45 minutes earlier
than the week before.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is a color commentator for the
The plummeting ratings mirror what happened to the USFL, another
outdoor spring football league.
The USFL which, unlike the XFL, lured some top talent from the
NFL went from a 14.2 rating in its first game to 7.4 in its
second in 1983. The rating dropped to 3.3 by Week 15, and the USFL
folded after three seasons.
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XFL ratings freefall evident on UPN, too