The XFL and USFL are in talks to merge their football leagues in an effort to create a stronger alternative to the NFL, according to Axios. The leagues plan to seal the deal before the 2024 season.
The games will likely be split between Disney, Fox, ABC, NBC, and other over-the-air networks, according to Axios. Dwayne Johnson and Danny Garcia own the XFL, with Disney as its media partner. Fox Corp. owns the USFL and already broadcasts games. NBC already has an agreement with the USFL to air games, though it has yet to be decided if this deal will continue.
While Fox said USFL games have been profitable, the XFL lost $60 million this year, according to Forbes. Viewership could have been better for both leagues, each averaging just 600,000 fans tuning in per game, as noted by journalist Anthony Crupi on X.
While they’re a far cry from the mega popularity of the NFL, the merger could provide a spark. It could also create sweeping changes for both leagues, including decreasing the number of teams overall while increasing the number of options fans have to watch games across free OTA television and on streaming platforms after the game, according to Stephan Rachuk of Pro Football Newsroom.
The XFL is already moving games from ESPN+ to YouTube, where fans can watch for free, according to XFL News Hub. In August, Disney said it was considering selling some of its ESPN assets and ABC, although it will maintain a standing agreement with the XFL. This week, Rupert Murdoch said he is stepping down as head of Fox and handing it off to his son, Lachlan Murdoch, who supports further developing the USFL.
The leagues are still negotiating contracts, according to XFL News Hub, and will still need approval from the Labor Relations Boards and the Federal Trade Commission.