AAF posts solid TV ratings for debut, matches NBA broadcast

The Alliance of American Football posted solid television ratings for its first-ever game broadcast last Saturday night, drawing the same audience as an NBA battle between two of the league’s top stars.

A split broadcast on CBS of two AAF games – Atlanta vs. Orlando and San Diego vs. San Antonio – delivered a 2.1 overnight rating, according to Nielsen data. That figure marked the highest rating for non-NFL pro football games since 2004, according to Sports Media Watch.

The AAF’s debut went head-to-head with a primetime matchup between the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, led by Russell Westbrook, and the Houston Rockets, led by James Harden. The NBA game also drew a 2.1 overnight rating.

While the AAF’s initial ratings were impressive for a fledgling league, they pale in comparison to the typical NFL audience. The average NFL game drew 15.8 million viewers in 2018, which translates to far higher overnight results in metered markets.

League representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the television ratings.

The AAF will air games on CBS, CBS Sports Network, The NFL Network and various streaming platforms during its 10-week debut season. The league’s first game on the NFL Network drew a dismal overnight rating of 0.4 on Sunday.


Co-founded by Charlie Ebersol and former NFL executive Bill Polian, the AAF’s streamlined broadcasts drew largely positive reviews on social media over the weekend. Ebersol recently told FOX Business that he expects the league’s tech platform, not its television deals, to be its most significant source of revenue in the coming years.