The debut season of the relaunchedXFL was canceled back on March 13 after just five weeks. Unfortunately, the cancellation was caused by current world events beyond anybody's control. And while the league has vowed to return in 2021, there is some speculation as to whether or not that will actually happen, especially since the league allowed its players to sign with other leagues earlier than expected. But here are five reasons why I expect the XFL to return to full form next season.
1. The XFL had very little choice but to cancel the season
As the COVID-19 virus began to spread, sports leagues around the world were forced to either cancel, postpone, or reschedule events. Sure, the XFL could have simply set a deadline to resume play. But because of the uncertainty that the coronavirus outbreak has caused to this point, the XFL felt it would be wise to cancel and then resume operations heading into 2021. Unlike the AAF, the XFL did not report any financial issues. The coronavirus is the only reason why the season was cut short.
2. Ticket sales were strong
The average attendance per game this season was around 17,000. The lowest attendance number was the 12,181 fans that went to Dignity Health Sports Park to watch the Los Angeles Wildcats defeat the Tampa Bay Vipers in Week 5. The highest number went to the 29,554 fans that showed up to the Dome at America's Center to see the St. Louis BattleHawks defeat the New York Guardians in Week 3. The BattleHawks were the only team to sell over 25,000 tickets in consecutive home games. At seasons end, a total of 362,505 fans bought tickets to watch the XFL (18,125 per game), and it wouldn't be surprising to see similar turnout next year.
3. Television viewership speaks for itself
The XFL consistently brought in a minimum of a million viewers each week, despite the fact that the viewership numbers declined after Week 2. Every game in Week 1 attracted 3 million viewers, Week 2 saw roughly 2 million viewers per game, but the number never dipped below 1 million for the rest of the season. The St. Louis BattleHawks, DC Defenders, and Seattle Dragons gave the league its best television ratings during the course of the season.
4. The XFL's strong social media presence
The league itself has around 400,000 Twitter followers, 220,000 Facebook likes, 606,000 Instagram followers, and 56,000 YouTube subscribers. The BattleHawks are the most popular team on social media with over 127,000 Instagram followers, 100,000 Twitter followers, and 58,000 Facebook likes. Fans turned to social media in droves for game highlights during the 2020 season.
5. The league will have no problem restocking their talent pool
Even though standouts such as P.J. Walker (Carolina Panthers) and Jordan Ta'amu (Kansas City Chiefs) have signed NFL deals, they still have to formally make the team through preseason games. At the moment, there's no guarantee that they'll be playing in the NFL come September. And if that's the case, they shouldn't have any problems returning to the XFL. But if they do land active roster spots, the XFL won't have any difficulty finding new players.
The NFL draft is taking place later this month, and as we all know, not every draft-eligible player will get selected. And once preseason wraps up before Labor Day weekend, each NFL team will have to cut over 30 players in order to set their 53-man regular-season rosters. There will be plenty of available talent on the open market for the XFL to sign for 2021.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.