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Cautious Optimism Follows AAF’s Opening Weekend

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Following an opening weekend that included strong television ratings, Alliance of American Football officials are cautiously optimistic about the upstart circuit’s direction. 

A new spring professional football league that features eight teams, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) debuted last Saturday with games in San Antonio and Orlando. Those contests kicked off the AAF’s opening weekend and averaged 3.25 million television viewers on CBS, topping the 2.67 million for an NBA broadcast on ABC featuring the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

While the big ratings on its opening weekend were a success for the AAF, it debuted at the relative low point for sports that is the time between Super Bowl and NCAA March Madness. It will also be sliding around networks over the coming weeks, with CBS not slated to air another game until the league championship in late April. Still, the ratings and overall response to the league’s opening weekend were big points of success, and seem to give AAF founder Charlie Ebersol a certain level of cautious optimism going forward. More from the AP:

“We feel really good about them and that our theory that Americans want more football tends to be true,” Ebersol said in a phone interview. “However, we still have to remain slow and steady in building things. We are going to be facing stiff competition as soon as next month (with the NCAA Tournament).”

The games Saturday on CBS averaged 3.25 million viewers, which was more than ABC’s broadcast of the Houston Rockets against the Oklahoma City Thunder (2.67 million), according to Nielsen. Most of the country could see San Diego at San Antonio while the rest could see Atlanta at Orlando.

The AAF ratings are comparable to the 3.32 million viewers that CBS averaged for a pair of NFL preseason games last August. However, the broadcasts Saturday from San Antonio and Orlando will be the only games on CBS until the championship game on April 27 in Las Vegas.

NFL Network will have the games on Saturday and Sunday nights while the CBS Sports Network has the Sunday afternoon game. TNT will be doing the game from Birmingham next Saturday afternoon, but the next eight weeks it will be streamed on B/R Live.

The AAF’s slate of teams for this season includes the Arizona Hotshots, Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders, and San Diego Fleet. Week two this weekend will feature Salt Lake at Birmingham and Arizona at Memphis on Saturday, followed by Orlando at San Antonio and Atlanta at San Diego on Sunday.

Image courtesy The Alliance.

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