While 2023 saw two dueling major alternative football leagues in the spring and early summer, 2024 may only have one. This year marked the second season for the Fox Sports-owned USFL revival and the first for the new-look XFL under the ownership of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital. But, as per Tim Baysinger, Dan Primack, and Sara Fischer of Axios, those leagues are in “advanced” talks about merging:
🏈 Scoop: Football leagues XFL and USFL in talks to merge
— The merger would be structured as a merger of equals and would require regulatory approval
— The leagues hope to combine before the 2024 seasons
W/ @tim_bays & @danprimack @axioshttps://t.co/zQxueieAww
— Sara Fischer (@sarafischer) September 19, 2023
Here’s more on what to expect there from that Axios piece:
Pro football leagues the XFL and USFL are in advanced talks to merge, three sources familiar with the situation tell Axios.
…Game broadcasts of the combined league are likely to be split between Fox and XFL media partner Disney, according to the source. The USFL also has a broadcast agreement with NBC, although it’s not yet been determined if that will continue.
…By the numbers: Fox executives have previously said the USFL has been profitable and had planned to invest more into spring football, while the XFL lost $60 million for its first season under Johnson, Forbes reported.
Both the USFL and XFL hit some ratings struggles this year, and the few weeks where they did have direct overlap didn’t help with that. Both leagues wound up averaging around 600,000 viewers per game. And the XFL lost that reported $60 million in their first year back, and while they talked about a pathway to profitability in five years, they still laid off a lot of employees (especially in marketing) and shifted others from full-time to a seasonal model.
Johnson tweeted in June about “big plans” for 2024, and now it looks like those plans could involve a merger. It’s unclear if that will come to fruition, and if so, what that will mean for the leagues’ current teams. Both leagues had eight teams in 2023, as seen in the logos at top.