The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

XFL Football discussion.
MarkNelson
XFLBoard Correspondent
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:09 pm

The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by MarkNelson » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:24 pm

Mike Mitchell nails it with this. He has seen both XFLs and it's a different world this time around.

https://xflboard.com/news/2020/01/10/th ... f-the-xfl/

The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL
Posted on January 10, 2020 by Mike Mitchell

Everything about the XFL thus far has been about the slow build. The league has been methodical in every respect since January of 2018. Now, we are fastly approaching the start of the 2020 season, and the hype for the league from the mainstream media has been slowly building momentum. It helps that Fox, ABC, and ESPN are the league’s partners, but in recent days, you get the sense that more media outlets are finally starting to catch on to what the XFL has built so far. There hasn’t been a huge promotional push yet by the league, and that’s certainly on the horizon. Having social media as a tool to build has been useful for the XFL, but you get the sense that some media and local outlets may be coming along for the ride.

It wasn’t like this back in 2001. There I was, in my early 20’s up in a press box at what was then known as Giants Stadium, and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen were playing the Memphis Maniax. It was like being invited to some exclusive club. I had followed and written about sports since high school, and now I was getting a chance to cover a football game with members of the New York press.

Mark Nelson at XFLBoard.com had gotten me this opportunity. I didn’t even care that the league didn’t have my name when I showed up at the stadium. I was just a young guy with “XFL Board” on my media pass. I knew that the XFL was on shaky ground as a league, but my enthusiasm had not died down as a result. I wasn’t sure how my experience at the game would go. I felt like there was a chance that I wouldn’t fit in with all the seasoned media professionals in that press box. At this point, the XFL was dead and buried by the mainstream media. The league was on ignore mode. Even still, I figured that the media members who showed up for the game would match my enthusiasm. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

None of the major news outlets in the tri-state area bothered to cover or show up for the game. The Post, Daily News, Newsday, The Ledger, and others failed to show. No one from CBS, Fox, ABC, or any of the local affiliates showed. There were just a handful of media members on hand, and I was one of them. The other members of the media were there on assignment, and it showed. The only thing they were interested in was the catering. It didn’t stop me from doing what I was on a mission to do, which was to cover the game and the teams. Only one media member joined me in the locker room to interview the players and coaches. The XFL had invited me to a party that no one else was interested in attending.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by the lack of media interest. After all, the XFL never had newspaper articles written about their games or players. Very few, if any, sports shows aired league highlights. The only place where the games were written about or highlighted was fan sites. That’s where the best followers of the league resided.

Flash forward, and the same is true to the present day. The most faithful followers of the current XFL reside on social media. The league has a loyal and dedicated group of followers that have been strong advocates for the league. It showed on the day of the XFL’s rules release. XFL CEO/Commissioner Oliver Luck and the Head of Officiating Dean Blandino made the media rounds on several TV and radio outlets. During Luck and Blandino’s rules related conference call it was no surprise that the majority of questions came from league dedicated sites like XFL Board, XFL Plus, XFL News Hub, XFL Chalk Talk, XFL Newsroom, and several others. The XFL has taken notice of these loyal fan dedicated members. So much so that ‘This is the XFL Show’ has now become an official podcast for the XFL.

There’s no denying that having all of these loyal and diehard supporters as your base is a great thing. However, the hard truth is that the XFL’s best chance for success hinges on the mainstream media. Alternative pro leagues have had a myriad of issues in the past. Funding and profitability have been the two most significant forms of kryptonite against them.

There are specific metrics that everyone tracks, and they are ticket sales and ratings. However, the root of all evil that ails upstart leagues is the lack of attention. The mainstream media can make or break entities by dismissing or ignoring them. The XFL has the funding and great business partners in Disney and Fox. Those outlets can help the league get the exposure it needs at the start but for the XFL to experience growth. The mainstream media is going to have to get on board eventually and follow the league’s games and players. It’s not an easy task for the XFL to accomplish. They’ll have to earn it by presenting a quality product.

Part of the lure of the original XFL was that it was anti-mainstream. It’s also what helped seal its fate. It was a radical sports league that became enemy of the state by puffing its chest out and spitting on tradition. The 2020 version of the XFL is nothing like its original counterpart. The league won’t make it long term if the mainstream sports media doesn’t get on board. Football leagues are too expensive to be niche products. It’s why the majority of them fail on a grand scale. The USFL, AAF, and even NFL Europe are clear examples of this. Media attention and interest is what drives ticket sales and ratings. It’s why the original XFL was such a smash hit for only one week. The current XFL is throwing a big fancy party on Saturday, February 8th. Will the sports media accept the invite?

User avatar
Regular Joe
Running Back
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:07 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by Regular Joe » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:47 pm

I loved the old board. Nice to know Mike Mitchells story. I was working for a fellow named Mike Mitchell at the time, and ironically, a guy named Mark Nelson.

I would visit xflboard.com from time to time the past 20 years. Dedicated fans. 😜

Vince got it right. Everyone's on board. It will build.

Now I gotta figure out a team to root for. For now it's all of them.
Where's Averi when you need her? :D

4th&long
Running Back
Posts: 121
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2019 2:27 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by 4th&long » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:52 pm

The FS1 - First Things First with Oliver Luck is the first I saw in a while on main stream sport media. I expect more of that. And if the Nets are shying away from promo during NFL games due to NFL push back ... that stinks - and does that reach into NFL post and pregame?

At any rate ESPN SC can promote the XFL games and so should the FS1 equivalent, also on NBA/NCAAB games. But the big one is the CFB championship game Monday night - Thet really need to promote during that.
Need National big time, local too, but TV ratings are made nationally.

He's the FS1 - First Things First with Oliver Luck.... on youtube... 8-)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQcrFBtduhA

Here's a Seattle Q13 TV report as well...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avl9peuUYVg


If anyone sees more please post it!
Last edited by 4th&long on Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sounder
Quarterback
Posts: 366
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:04 am

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by Sounder » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:01 pm

The thing about the USFL and I was there.....(Invaders fan)...... is that they did indeed have the media's attention.....and their owners seemed to make sure league business was public knowledge even in the 1980s. Who knows what would've been had they never voted for the fall......the ratings were actually solid for a second league.... a 14.2 in 1980s tv ratings on their opening weekend made headlines. Sure it leveled off and the owners panicked and they knee jerk reacted adding teams to cover their losses.....listening and being lured by a sales pitch for promised but never really materializing fall tv riches that nullified any advances teams were making as a spring product. If only..... they didn't have a Lamar Hunt.....they had a ..........

MGB01
Quarterback
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:42 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by MGB01 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:11 pm

I would imagine that NY especially was a tough sell in 2001 with the Giants just coming off going to the Super Bowl and then the next week it's "what the hell? This guy even throw ten yards?" I remember Puleri as the QB at New Mexico State in 92 when they had a winning season for the first time in forever, and they got like a 5 minute spot on Gameday. Better yet, he even had two years in the Arena League after the XFL.

Then there was the whole Rusty Tillman flap (Rusty was my favorite coach behind Knox and Mora growing up, wish the Hawks hired him in 95 instead of Erickson) which in a way was the anti Madden: blatant Cowboys cheerleader (or Skip Bayless before anyone knew who the hell he was) in 95 but no no no.

Much different now just that you might get more Giants (We hired the guy from Office Space? GREAAAAAAAT) fans on board.

I'll tell you this, seems that we're getting probably the most organized attempt at an alt league yet. The AAF looked good on paper, which unfortunately ended up being wet. That extra year of prep could be the difference.

MGB01
Quarterback
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:42 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by MGB01 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:24 pm

Sounder wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:01 pm
The thing about the USFL and I was there.....(Invaders fan)...... is that they did indeed have the media's attention.....and their owners seemed to make sure league business was public knowledge even in the 1980s. Who knows what would've been had they never voted for the fall......the ratings were actually solid for a second league.... a 14.2 in 1980s tv ratings on their opening weekend made headlines. Sure it leveled off and the owners panicked and they knee jerk reacted adding teams to cover their losses.....listening and being lured by a sales pitch for promised but never really materializing fall tv riches that nullified any advances teams were making as a spring product. If only..... they didn't have a Lamar Hunt.....they had a ..........
I contend that the first year of the USFL, which ended being a mish-mash of the initial burst of XF1 spread over 21 weeks combined with the AAF's wet paper foundation that made for the conditions that allowed you know to come in and do you know what. How can a league that was supposed to be an unabashed success as the USFL be in such disastrous shape financially when he swooped in? I mean his entire M.O. over the years is get in at the bottom floor.

And keep in mind this is all with TV money (ABC and ESPN weren't part of the same tree yet), without would be AAF/UFL here we come, minimum

4th&long
Running Back
Posts: 121
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2019 2:27 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by 4th&long » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:26 pm

MGB01 wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:11 pm
I would imagine that NY especially was a tough sell in 2001 with the Giants just coming off going to the Super Bowl and then the next week it's "what the hell? This guy even throw ten yards?" I remember Puleri as the QB at New Mexico State in 92 when they had a winning season for the first time in forever, and they got like a 5 minute spot on Gameday. Better yet, he even had two years in the Arena League after the XFL.

Then there was the whole Rusty Tillman flap (Rusty was my favorite coach behind Knox and Mora growing up, wish the Hawks hired him in 95 instead of Erickson) which in a way was the anti Madden: blatant Cowboys cheerleader (or Skip Bayless before anyone knew who the hell he was) in 95 but no no no.

Much different now just that you might get more Giants (We hired the guy from Office Space? GREAAAAAAAT) fans on board.

I'll tell you this, seems that we're getting probably the most organized attempt at an alt league yet. The AAF looked good on paper, which unfortunately ended up being wet. That extra year of prep could be the difference.
Charlie Ebersol really bamboozled everyone (he's in a major lawsuit now-well deserved) on the AAF. We have 5-10 yrs of funding - my azz. He was salesman selling BS. If he downsized the league to the funding available they may have showcased well enough to get more investors like Dundon and a CBS/NFLN tv contract. Bill Polian said shortly there after the league's 1st year was designed to showcase to the Nets (clearly investors too) so they could get a contract. If that was the case 6 teams (only 3 games a week were televised anyway) and 8 reg season games, 45 man rosters, lower player salaries, etc.. would have sufficed. Of course they also wanted to c##k block the XFL to players which was ridiculous IMO.

If they had down those things they would likely have been around for a yr two. Shame.

What is the media/press like in NYC metro area for the Guardians?

User avatar
LeoNY
Coach
Posts: 938
Joined: Sat May 25, 2019 8:20 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by LeoNY » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:53 pm

Great article. I was around for the USFL. They got a good amount of attention but there were media types that were NFL loyalists. They shunned the USFL and intentionally ignored it. The media was heavily in bed with the NFL and the USFL was seen as a threat and treated as such. Some of the USFL teams did poorly in attendance. Some markets refused to allow their media members to cover the league.

BengalErnst
Receiver
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:10 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by BengalErnst » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:15 pm

My question to you guys who know much more about the history of these kind of leagues and the business side of things, do you think Vince McMahon will franchise out the league? I’d love to see the guy who basically funded the arena league these last few years, the guy who owns the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards to possible run the DC Defenders. He’s a guy with a lot of money and sports interest. Name is escaping me.

MGB01
Quarterback
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:42 pm

Re: The mainstream sports media coverage of the XFL

Post by MGB01 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:35 pm

Ted Leonsis is who you're thinking of, but it's gonna have to be a massive sell after the AFL cave-in.

The most obvious comes to mind is Cuban, who checks off pretty much all the boxes. Off the top: the ESPN/ABC connection is there (NBA, Shark Tank), he tried to get into MLB a few years back, and hopefully the UFL debacle didn't sour him totally.

Might be perfect for Vince: Cuban was at Survivor Series 2003 (AAC), the promo for that was Vince being driven around a practice field, and then "having the idea" of THE WWE AND PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL, then a few seconds later, NAAAAAAA. Could work to his favor with this lawsuit (that is likely headed nowhere but as insurance) as well future investors that might be skittish with any WWE connection.

Also Cuban having a stake in AXS (airs Impact, as both are owned by ASE) helps diffuse that. Of course then he might divest himself totally since we could be getting into FTC territory, the same he used to mock Turner for.

Of course if the goal is not to have a combative relationship with the NFL it might not work out so well considering his shots at the NFL over the last few years (mainly 'pigs get fat/hogs get slaughtered' from 2014), then again all you'd have to do is point out him working with Jerry Jones (2010 NBA ASG at Jerryworld) to say he's just talking.

Post Reply