XFL: How Vince McMahon Needs to approach the league to be successful

Well if you haven’t heard already, the XFL is returning to try to fill a void in the football world. Vince McMahon is back with a second attempt at a failed product set to roll out in 2020. While the XFL won’t be in direct competition with the NFL, McMahon wants to get the league started in the first couple months of each year. His biggest hurdle will be how the NFL has set up their scheduling. Sure, there’s 7 months with no football being played, but there’s not 7 months with an absence of football. THere’s a lull after the season for a month or two, NFL free agency, then April’s draft then OTAs shortly after. There’s always something going on for the country’s best football product.

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During McMahon’s press conference he talked again about how the XFL would separate from the NFL but no one knows how they’ll accomplish that as of yet. However, there could be a few ways he could make the league successful.

A Hard Knocks style program for each team: The NFL picks only one team every year to follow through camps and preseason. While taking an idea from the NFL isn’t that great of a way to distance yourself from it, the player exposure is necessary. One of the biggest problems with the XFL was that it seemed to happen on the fly. No one knew the players and fans never established who they wanted to cheer for. This time around there needs to be a connection to the players, teams, and coaches. People love reality tv and there’s no better way to dive into support for players than getting a behind the scenes look at who they are and how they compete. The NFL could stick to one team if they want, but the XFL needs every team.

Streaming services: While Vince McMahon wants to establish a league separate from the WWE he should take a page out of his old playbook as well. The problem with the NFL now is black outs for out of market games and local teams taking precedence over favorite teams. Since the WWE Network is already established as their own streaming service, should it evolve with a subscription add-on like the XFL package then games would be available on demand. Streaming services are about to blow up with Disney and WB jumping on board by the time the XFL kicks off. Will the WWE/XFL offer their own streaming content?

Choose the right time to air: Sorry Vince, as much as the XFL is your pet project it’s probably not going to compete with shows like The Walking Dead or Westworld on Sunday nights. Weekends are great for football but the XFL isn’t ready for prime time. If the league airs mid-day while people are off from work you may have better luck than competing with the ratings darlings. Remember, the NFL started on Sunday afternoons then expanded to Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night football. Stay in the sweet spot on weekends before you try to go prime time.

Establish your stars: He Hate Me was a fun novelty while it lasted. Rod Smart even went on to have a brief stint in the NFL. However, more important than the sideshow antics is getting players who are likable and marketable from the start. Players will need to do a lot more interacting with fans before and after games, be more available to the press, and be in the public eye when they can. You can’t just throw a fun name on a jersey and hope fans will cheer them on. The NFL succeed at first because of the likability of their biggest stars. They might not be marketable to endorse products right off the start so fan interaction is the key.

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While the XFL failed the first time, there’s not to say there’s not a market for it. In a world that is forever rebooting old shows and movies, why not a defunct football league. With streaming being so popular these days, there’s a ton of ways to make the XFL more marketable than it was before. Remember, the first attempt was 17 years ago where people didn’t have as much access to information. If Vince McMahon wants to be successful this time around, he’ll have to get as much information out to the public as possible. Here’s to more football, #XFL2020!

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