The XFL on ESPN broadcast shows off a new replay system with Dean Blandino in the Command Center.

The XFL is back for the first time since 2020, and for the second season of its reboot. The games will be shown across the ESPN networks and FX.

The 2023 season debut between the Vegas Vipers and Arlington Renegades on ABC featured an intro led by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who’s now a co-owner (along with Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale) of the XFL.

Minutes later, The Rock gave a pregame speech to those in attendance at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, TX.

Then came the game, which gave us a look at the XFL on ESPN (on ABC) broadcast (featuring Tom Hart and Greg McElroy on the call).

The score bug extends across the whole screen — like the Monday Night Football score bug, but the XFL one has the BottomLine under it — and is white with black font (but white font over a black down-and-distance graphic). It features the betting point spread and over/under, which was also the case in 2020. Additionally, under the timeouts, the score bug shows if each team has a challenge remaining (each team gets one “golden challenge” per game, to use on any play or penalty).

After Vegas scored the game’s first touchdown, McElroy explained the XFL’s extra-point system: “Now, we get to take a peek at these new extra-point rules for the XFL. You get to determine, a one-point conversion from the two-yard line, a two-point conversion from the five-yard line, or a three-point conversion from the 10-yard line.”

The broadcast features plenty of mic’d up highlights, and even some examples during live action.

Here, we have Arlington co-offensive coordinator Jonathan Hayes relaying a play-call to quarterback Drew Plitt, who then tells his teammates the play-call in the huddle before they run the play.

The feature that has received the most praise from viewers is the replay system. It’s worked efficiently in the Vegas-Arlington game and gives viewers a full look at the process.

Dean Blandino — who’s also a rules analyst for Fox Sports — serves as the XFL VP of officiating and rules innovation. Blandino reviews a play in the XFL Command Center (featuring several screens) and relays his ruling to the referee on the field, who then announces the ruling.

The XFL on ESPN broadcast has shown off several unique features, and it will be interesting to see if any of them become a part of future NFL and college football broadcasts.


About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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