XFL, Disney Tag Team New Deal: Games Set to Air on ESPN, FX & ABC

Dwayne Johnson is doing everything he can to make sure XFL can succeed where the previous owner, WWE's Vince McMahon, failed… not once, but twice. The football league struck a deal with Disney that will air games on its owned networks ESPN, FX, and ABC. Network rivals FOX and NBC air USFL games, as both leagues look to become spring alternatives to the established NFL, with which the two leagues also have a working partnership.

XFL Strikes Deal with Disney, Games To Air on ESPN, FX and ABC
Image: XFL

"We have entered into an exclusive multi-year deal with our partners with Walt Disney to produce and distribute all of our games," Johnson said at Disney's upfront presentation. Games are expected to start in 2023, and the deal will last through 2027. Under the pact, each season, all 43 games — 40 regular-season games, two playoffs, and one championship —will be featured on a combination of ABC, ESPN networks, and FX. The deal includes exclusive rights across Disney and ESPN's digital, social and direct-to-consumer outlets, including ESPN+.

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"The games are also going to feature technological innovation designed to create a really unique viewing experience for fans all over the world and advertisers," Johnson said. "We are building this brand and with your brands, we can co-create something that is truly special and iconic." "We are extraordinarily excited to explore the endless possibilities of this partnership – today is surely just the beginning," said league chairwoman Dany Garcia. The current XFL ownership group is led by Garcia, Johnson, and Gerry Cardinale's Redbird Capital Partners.

The XFL was originally conceived by McMahon and co-owned by NBC with long-time partner and executive Dick Ebersol. The network agreed to a deal following the loss of its broadcasting rights to the NFL and offered a variety of football broadcast innovations like the overhead sky cam. Games also aired on UPN and TNN, which also aired WWE programming in SmackDown and Raw at the time. The league folded following its inaugural season in 2001. McMahon's second attempt started in 2018 with its lone season in 2020 as the financial troubles complicated by the pandemic led to him selling the league to his one-time top WWE star Johnson and his partners.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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