The USFL is set to kick off its second season this week with a slate of four games across NBC and Fox platforms. And we now know who will be calling those games, with NBC announcing their commentators Tuesday:
— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) April 11, 2023
As per that release, Jac Collinsworth and Paul Burmeister will be NBC’s USFL play-by-play voices, while analysts will include Jason Garrett, Michael Robinson, Cameron Jordan, Colt McCoy, Kyle Rudolph, and Anthony Herron. Jordan and McCoy are both currently on active NFL rosters with the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals respectively, while Rudolph is a free agent who spent last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The other analysts are former NFL players, or in the case of Garrett, a former coach. NBC’s USFL sideline reporters will be Zora Stephenson, Corey Robinson, Lewis Johnson, and Caroline Pineda.
As for Fox Sports (which owns the USFL in addition to broadcasting it), they haven’t fully announced their commentators yet. But Sports Business Journal‘s John Ourand outlined them Monday:
Fox will have two crews call the game. One will feature Curt Menefee, Joel Klatt and Brock Huard. The other will be made up of Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez and Devin Gardner.
The USFL’s second season here will mark the first consecutive second season for a spring league since the original USFL in the 1980s. They will be playing in four cities instead of one central hub this year, but that’s still a difference from the XFL and its games in every market. Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks told Ourand expanding from one market to four is a big deal for them, though, and is helping them make local inroads, including with the Pistons, Lions, and Rock Entertainment in Detroit, and with FedEx in Memphis.
“Those are the types of local connections and advocates that we’re cultivating,” said Shanks, who also is chairman of the USFL board of directors. “It’s a grassroots effort to celebrate football and have a meaningful impact in the community. That’s the biggest operational change for us in Season 2.”
Shanks also told Ourand he expects more TV success this year, with better game time windows, more broadcast TV windows, and an ability to use more old USFL history after settling a trademark lawsuit last summer.
“We’re pulling every lever that we can to continue the trajectory of success and sustainability,” he said. “We were a little bit late to the game with our TV schedule in Season 1. In Season 2, we vastly increased what we know will be success based on lead-ins and the windows that we have on Fox and NBC.”
…“We’re kicking off the season in Memphis, so you’re going to see a lot of Memphis Showboats historical footage in teases and bumps,” Shanks said. “We’ll be able to draw comparisons to season records and single-game records and show that footage. We can contrast and compare Jim Kelly to Case Cookus.”
In its first season last year, the USFL averaged 715,000 viewers across its 36 regular-season games across Fox, NBC, USA, and FS1 (the four on Peacock alone were not rated). That was ahead of the 556,000 the AAF averaged in 2019, but behind the 1.9 million the XFL averaged in 2020. Both Fox and NBC executives had positive things to say about those numbers, though. And it will be interesting to see what the league does in this second year, and how its numbers stack up against the XFL, which it’s already taken some shots at.