Guess what’s back, back again. The XFL’s back, tell a friend. Even though those aren’t the lyrics to Eminem’s single “Without Me”, it feels like they could be after yesterday’s announcement of a rebooted XFL coming in 2020.
With a lot to happen over the course of the next two years, (most Super Bowl locations, let alone an entire league, need more than two years to plan) there are many important factors that play into this decision for McMahon, who is investing $100 million of his own money into the league.
1. Single Entity
The league will be a single entity with McMahon owning all of the franchises. This isn’t the first time this has happened in the US, as the MLS is also a single entity. For McMahon, it’s all or nothing.
2. Rise of Streaming and Social Platforms
With Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and even potentially Netflix wanting to get more involved with live sports, McMahon sees an opportunity to capitalize on non-linear platforms and distribution. After all, the WWE is one of the most engaged brands on social.
3. 2020 NFL CBA and 2019 WWE TV Rights
The broadcasting rights for the WWE are up in 2019, and although McMahon says there will be no crossover in talent between the WWE and the XFL, the ability to package both might make things more interesting for Fox and Facebook, both who are said to be heavily involved in the bidding process. Beyond that, the NFL’s CBA is up in 2020 and tense, if not prolonged, negotiations are possible. If a lockout were to occur, outside of college football, McMahon and the XFL would be the only show in town.
4. Legalized Sports Betting
As all signs point towards legalized sports betting at a federal level becoming a reality, the XFL could become the perfect winter and spring addition to sportsbooks across the country. With Vegas taking in nearly $5 billion in wagers last year, and fans readily admitting gambling/fantasy makes them more likely to tune in, there could be immense interest.
Potentially lost in all of this is McMahon’s true understanding of how to entertain and engage fans. Yesterday alone, both McMahon and the XFL were global trends on Twitter and there isn’t one outlet that didn’t at least mention the news. Although he has two years to figure everything out, it will be interesting to watch the buildup to the first game in 2020. And oh yeah, WWE’s stock hit an all-time high yesterday.