Ten years ago, very few would have predicted that professional football would become a growth industry, at least beyond the NFL. However, with Vince McMahon announcing in January that he’s bringing the XFL back, it appeared that the NFL would soon have some company at the top of the professional football world.
Now it appears that Roger Goodell’s league is going to have even more company.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Charlie Ebersol (son of longtime NBC Sports Executive Dick Ebersol) has partnered with CBS to broadcast games for a new football league which will start playing in 2019, a full year before McMahon’s XFL reboot.
According to Variety:
The Alliance of American Football is backed by investors including Founders Fund, Slow Ventures, Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group, Adrian Fenty and Charles King’s M Ventures, Keith Rabois, and former NFL all-pro Jared Allen. The AAF is not disclosing how much funding it has raised, but ‘we are confident we have the right team and long-term financial resources in place to ensure fans will experience high-quality professional football for many seasons to come,’ Ebersol said in a statement.
Charlie Ebersol (pictured above) also is joining forces with his father, longtime sports-media exec Dick Ebersol, who will serve on the league’s board — and previously teamed with McMahon for the XFL’s one-season run on NBC. Dick Ebersol led NBC Sports for more than two decades and created ‘Sunday Night Football’ in partnership with the NFL along with establishing the Peacock’s Olympics coverage.
The AAF will likely pose no threat to the NFL, since the league season begins after the Super Bowl. However, Ebersol’s new league could pose a challenge to the XFL, should McMahon’s league decide to play in the NFL’s offseason.
“Ebersol co-founded the league with former NFL GM Bill Polian, who over a 24-year span built championship teams including the Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers.”
Charlie Ebersol said of his league, “We believe fans and players are what’s most important, so our approach is simple — we’ve created an Alliance where fans and players share in the success of their teams.”
As Variety explains:
Under its deal with the AAF, CBS will air league matchups beginning with the Feb. 9, 2019, season opener and culminating with the championship game the weekend of April 26-28, with one regular-season game airing each week exclusively on CBS SportsNetwork.
Viewers will be able to stream AAF matchups live via a free app, while also accessing integrated fantasy options with real prizes — for themselves and the players they root for. Charlie Ebersol also says the league will offer “family pricing” with more affordable tickets to games.
All eight teams will be owned by the AAF. This stands in contrast to the NFL, which uses a franchise structure. The league expects to make announcements on where the eight teams will be located, coaching hires, potential players, and all other related news on its website (aaf.com) over the next three months.
The league will reportedly use 50-man rosters, consisting primarily of players who played their college or pro ball in the area where their team is located.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn