The American Alliance of Football debuted this weekend and the early results and numbers were positive. Saturday night’s game between the San Antonio Commanders and the San Diego Fleet beat out the NBA Showcase game of the week between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder in terms of viewership. The AAF did a 2.1 overnight rating while a marquee NBA match-up between the league’s last two MVPs did a 2.0.
The numbers are not surprising given America’s insatiable desire for football. Football is America’s game, plain and simple. We are addicted to three things in this country. Fast food, credit and football. I stole that line from someone else but you get my point. Americans love football and cannot consume enough of it.
Will the AAF continue to put up numbers like this weekend the rest of the season? Probably not. A lot of that will depend on how good the games are. I still think however that the league will do well because football is a once a week commitment. People will watch. Especially if the match ups are compelling.
While we may not know many of the players in the league, we know the coaches and the people running the league. That type of cache and credibility helps the league and it will show in the ratings. People will watch because they know who Steve Spurrier and Mike Martz are. If nothing else, they know the product will be exciting and entertaining.
It also helps that the league is the anti-NFL when it comes to enforcing the rules. Officials have let the players play thus far. That could change moving forward but unlike the NFL, AAF games weren’t bogged down with flags. The pace of play was better because the officiating was better and a shorter play clock. Factor in teams having to go for two after a score and you can see why the league has appealed to fans thus far.
Naysayers will tell you that this league will ultimately suffer the same fate as other spring leagues. I don’t buy it. I think the AAF has the potential to do well because it is credible. League officials like co-founder Bill Polian view the league as a developmental partner of the NFL. Unlike XFL founder Vince McMahon who has openly said his league is competing with the NFL, the AAF wants to work with the NFL.
There is a place at the sports table for spring football and if the product is good, people will watch. Americans love football and this weekend’s ratings reinforce that notion.