Both the Alliance of American Football and the returning XFL are probably facing uphill battles for relevance and long-term success, but at the very least, it sounds like they’ll have distribution deals in place.
According to John Ourand and Terry Lefton of the Sports Business Journal, both leagues are working with the big networks. The AAF, which has its debut week on February 9th, has a deal in place with CBS, while the XFL (returning in 2020) is talking to Fox and ESPN.
Via SBJ, the AAF will see their league promoted on Super Bowl Sunday, and they’re also in talks with NFL Network:
Charlie Ebersol’s Alliance of American Football kicks off on Feb. 9, six days after the Super Bowl, with games on the broadcast network CBS — which will have just aired the Super Bowl. CBS, which will carry a promo for the AAF on Super Bowl Sunday, also will have the league’s championship game on its broadcast network in April. Its cable channel, CBS Sports Network, is committed to carry at least one AAF game per week.
The AAF also is in talks to have NFL Network carry several of its games. Sources describe an NFL Network deal as likely, adding that one could be finalized over the next several weeks. NFL Network is in more than 65 million homes and has more distribution than CBS Sports Network.
Meanwhile, the XFL is looking to work with Fox and ESPN, though those deals sound a bit farther off:
Sources say the league expects to have at least two-thirds of its games appear on broadcast television, underscoring the league’s strategy to get its games in front of the biggest potential audiences.
The XFL is deep in discussions with Fox and ESPN, in a pair of deals that would see games on ABC and Fox, as well as ESPN and FS1. So far, talks do not involve ESPN’s streaming service, ESPN+, sources said.
It’s unlikely that either of these leagues emerge as true competitors to the NFL; it’s much more likely they end up competing against each other for any spillover professional football interest. But they are offering live games, which for now continue to be a prized commodity for networks.