The XFL posted overall attendance of 81,942 for its four-game weekend slate in Week 3, with an average of just over 20,000 fans per game. Attendance has increased each week since the XFL’s debut on Feb. 6 and was up considerably compared to Week 1, which drew a total of 69,818 fans.
A Sunday afternoon matchup between the New York Guardians and the St. Louis BattleHawks in St. Louis drew the largest announced XFL crowd to date, with 29,554 fans in attendance. However, Week 3 also featured the XFL’s least-attended game of the season, as the matchup between the DC Defenders and the Los Angeles Wildcats in LA drew just 12,211 fans.
Game attendance is one of several key financial metrics that will determine whether the XFL avoids the fate of other recent pro football startups, all of which have failed shortly after launch.
While final XFL television ratings for Week 3 were not yet available as of Monday afternoon, the league posted a marked decline in viewership from its debut weekend to Week 2. The four games that aired during Week 3 drew an average of 2.1 million viewers, down 34 percent compared to Week 1.
A sustained television audience would allow the XFL to attract a lucrative media rights deal – a key source of revenue for all major U.S. sports leagues in the modern marketplace. At present, the XFL’s broadcast partners at ESPN and FOX Sports are covering production costs but aren’t paying any rights fees to air games.
Still, the XFL does not need to post ratings on par with the NFL or major college football games in order to thrive, according to Michael Mulvihill, executive vice president and head of strategy at FOX Sports.
“If you're looking at XFL ratings I think it's important to acknowledge the massive volume of sports programming that thrives on cable in the 1-2m viewer range, or on broadcast in a 1-3m range,” Mulvihill wrote on Twitter.
Fox Corp. is the parent company of Fox Sports and FOX Business.