Feb 23, 2023; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sea Dragons wide receiver Josh Gordon (0) catches a pass during pregame warmups prior to the game against the St. Louis Battlehawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Viewership for the XFL in Week 3 took another step back, but the decline slowed in comparison to Week 2.

The four games, with three airing on FX and one on ESPN2, averaged 572,000 viewers, compared to 655,000 last week. That’s a drop of about 14%, compared to a nearly 50% drop from Week 1 to Week 2.

Direct comparisons to the USFL in Week 3 a year ago are tricky. All four of these XFL games aired on cable. Last year, two USFL games aired on Fox, one aired on USA, and one aired exclusively on Peacock. Viewership for the Peacock game was never reported, and the three games airing on broadcast or cable averaged 743,000 viewers. So while the two numbers aren’t all that close, you’re comparing four cable games to one cable game and two broadcast TV games. It’s not an apples to apples comparison.

Anyway, we’ll get more of the same this week. The XFL in Week 4 has a Saturday doubleheader on FX, and a Sunday doubleheader on ESPN2. That’s four cable games, and the inevitable comparisons to the USFL will be to one streaming-exclusive game with no viewership data reported, one cable game, and two broadcast games.

Through three weeks, the third iteration of the XFL is suffering from the issue of expectations vs reality. Both the 2020 XFL and last year’s USFL debut started stronger, with broadcast-heavy schedules, and fell off just as quick. Viewership for the USFL eventually stabilized, while version two of the XFL declined week by week until the pandemic shut the league down after Week 5. This XFL hasn’t stabilized yet, but it’s hard to make definitive conclusions about the league’s future quite yet. Will it follow the path of the first two XFLs into the tank, or will it get a second season like the USFL? We’re going to need more than three weeks worth of data to make that conclusion.

[Data via ShowBuzz Daily]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.