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USFL to Touch Down in More Markets

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
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Ahead of its inaugural championship this weekend, USFL chair Eric Shanks confirmed the league is returning for a second season in more markets.

Shanks, who also serves as CEO and executive producer at Fox Sports, told Sports Business Journal that the league’s eight teams will play in two-to-four markets during the 2023 season. In its first season, all teams played in Birmingham, where the league’s office is located. 

Each of the new markets will house multiple teams, but the USFL will stick with eight teams for its second season. Players reportedly make $4,500 per game.

“We’ve always had an expansion plan that could potentially come into play in Year 3 and beyond,” Shanks explained. Fox owns the USFL through USFL HoldCo, LLC and committed $150 million over three years.

The league will stick to a similar schedule — its 36 regular-season TV broadcasts averaged around 715,000 viewers across Fox, NBC, FS1, and USA Network.

  • The league’s debut game brought in 3.1 million viewers.
  • The last regular-season game had 181,000 viewers.

“I would say yes, it was a profitable property for us,” NBC Sports executive Jon Miller said.

Spring Flings

The USFL’s return was expected but not guaranteed. Several other spring football leagues didn’t make it past one year, including the Alliance of American Football — which averaged 556,000 viewers — and two versions of the XFL.

The XFL, which averaged 1.9 million viewers in its latest iteration, is making a return next spring.

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