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USFL Announces Inaugural Season Schedule

USFL
(Image credit: USFL)

In yet another attempt to monetize America’s game year-round, the United States Football League (USFL) has announced its regular- and postseason television schedule. FOX Sports and NBC Sports, the League’s official media partners, will combine to present all 43 games live, starting in late April. There will be 18 primetime broadcasts, including the USFL Championship Game on Sunday, July 3 airing on FOX from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Past attempts to launch professional football leagues in the spring—post-NFL—have failed miserably. Like its counterpart the XFL, which expired amid lawsuits and a pandemic two years ago, this will be the USFL’s second go-round, after its three-season attempt for relevance in the early 1980’s. 

In its announcement this week, the USFL clarified that it is “a new, independent football league that is not affiliated with the defunct 1980s league or its owners.”

The one element that  could work in its favor: the current lockout between players and owners that is preventing what was formerly “America’s game” from launching its 2022 season.  

Leading up to the championship, NBC Sports and FOX Sports will each broadcast one semifinal game on Saturday, June 25, from Canton, with the first airing at 3:00 PM ET on FOX, and the second in primetime at 8:00 PM ET on NBC and streaming on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service.

The USFL inaugural kickoff game between he New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions will be broadcast live on FOX, NBC and Peacock, April 16 at 7:30 PM ET (6:30 PM CT) at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium.  

This will mark the first scheduled sports competition to air at the same time on two competitive networks since Super Bowl I broadcast on NBC and CBS, Jan. 15, 1967. For the inaugural game, NBC Sports will provide pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage which will air on both networks, utilizing its on-air, production, and technical personnel. FOX Sports will produce the game coverage, which both networks will carry, using its broadcasters, production, and technical staff, and the same commercials will run on each network throughout the broadcast.

For the 2022 USFL season, FOX Sports will carry 22 games split between FOX (14) and FS1 (8), and NBC Sports will present 22 games on NBC (9), USA Network (9), and Peacock (4), which will also stream all games broadcast on NBC. 

In perhaps a not so subtle dig at the MLB lockout, the USFL said that “the combined regular-season coverage on NBC and FOX will give the USFL 22 broadcast windows, more than any regularly scheduled sport in the first half of 2022.” Each network will reveal its respective production details, including broadcast teams, later.

Yesterday, the USFL announced the regular-season team versus team matchups including confirmed dates and start times for Week 1 and Week 2. Broadcast specifics for the remaining weeks of the season will be announced on the Monday two-weeks prior (e.g., Week 3 specifics will be announced on Monday, April 18, Week 4 specifics on Monday, April 25, etc.).

Tom Butts
Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.