Vince McMahon could be about to relaunch the XFL, as it was confirmed today the WWE Chairman has set up brand new entertainment company and filed for brand new football trademarks.
In news that will no doubt shock and surprise many (and raise a lot of questions), 72-year-old WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon has established “Alpha Entertainment, LLC”; a brand new entertainment company, a spokesperson for WWE has confirmed.
It was also reported today on Twitter by journalist Brad Shepard (@TheBradShepard), that these plans include a sensational relaunch of the failed football league, the XFL and that an official announcement could come as early as January 2018.
Shepherd also reports Vince McMahon’s desire to relaunch a football brand came while filming the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary, and that WWE employees have been told to prepare for the announcement.
Interestingly enough, WWE’s official statement doesn’t deny this report either and even goes so far as to admit Football is indeed in Mr. McMahon’s plans. As the statement goes:
“Vince McMahon has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscape, including professional football.”
Coincidentally, or not as may be the case, several trademarks have been filed for football by VKM Ventures, LLC (another Vince McMahon company) – one of which is the famous “HE HATE ME” slogan from the original XFL.
These trademarks include “United Football League”, “URFL”, “UrFL”, “UFL”, and “For the Love of Football”
In the 30-for-30 aired on ESPN this year, Vince McMahon and former NBC Chairman, Dick Ebersol both reminisced on the XFL, including discussing what worked and what didn’t and both expressed an interest in re-launching the brand.
Famously, the original XFL went down in history as a monumental business failure, but that wouldn’t be telling the whole story. The XFL wasn’t without its innovations – the sky cam, in-game interviews, and locker-room cam were all adopted by the NFL.
The league lasted only one season after low ratings, in particular, a 1.5 rating for the Chicago/NY-NJ game which was at the time, the worst rating ever for any major network weekends sports broadcast in America. Initially a 2-year agreement, NBC announced a second season would not take place after admitting the XFL’s aim to provide alternative football was a failure.
When it was all said and done, the WWF and XFL lost $35million each in the venture, only recuperating 30% of their original $100million investment. The media reception certainly didn’t help – the XFL was universally panned before a ball had even been kicked. Because of the direct ties to WWF, many media outlets (and indeed fans) assumed the games would be fixed. When the league kicked off, the quality of play was deemed to be terrible. Charlie Ebersol, the director for the “30 for 30” documentary, and Dick Ebersol’s son was quoted as saying:
“The biggest mistake they made with the XFL was that they only gave the players thirty days to train together as a team. You had guys who were working at Bed Bath and Beyond, and thirty days later they’re in the XFL. They spent six to eight months marketing the league, and thirty days training the players. If they’d done four and four. … They sold this thing like it was the iPhone, and they rolled it out like it was whatever piece of crap Motorola put out.”
In 2017 though, the prospect of the XFL/UFL, while surprising is something that might actually work depending on how it’s structured. A large number of football fans have become unhappy with the NFL and Vince McMahon could take what he learned with the initial mistakes of the original game, and perhaps create something compelling. The advancements in technology will no doubt be a factor too.
WWE Network has a subscriber base of almost 1.5million and is in-house content that wouldn’t need to be licensed to air. WWE has gone on record many times as saying they’re actively looking to produce content for the Network outside of wrestling action. Could the XFL/UFL fill that void?
There’s also the social media factor. WWE are juggernauts on Social Media and will no doubt use this to their advantage. A deal with Facebook Watch has just been announced to air an in-ring show. Is the XFL/UFL airing on Facebook a possibility?
And will major TV networks be interested? Time will tell.