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XFL announces TV deals with ESPN and Fox Sports

XFL

Vince McMahon's XFL relaunch officially has several broadcast partners, but without the financial windfall of rights fees they might have expected.

The football league announced Monday that ESPN and Fox Sports will share in broadcast rights for the entire regular season and playoffs with games on ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, and FS1 both Saturdays and Sundays.

Kicking off in 2020, opening day will be on February 8 with the championship game scheduled for Sunday, April 26.

More than half of the XFL's games will be on ABC and Fox, something they expect will help increase exposure as it returns for the first time since its infamous one-and-done season in 2001.

One surprise regarding rights fees was reported by John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal

"The networks are not paying a rights fee, but ESPN and Fox are picking up production costs, which generally amount to around $400,000 per game, sources said. As part of the deal, the nets will sell ads around the game; the XFL will handle sponsorships at the venue. ESPN and Fox will hold streaming rights to XFL games. The two nets also will cross-promote games during game broadcasts."

At 43 games, that adds up to roughly $17.2 million.

McMahon has sold a lot of his WWE stock to privately fund the XFL through Alpha Entertainment which he has said will run completely separate from WWE.

Perhaps part of hesitancy into a large rights fee deal was due to the disaster that was the AAF, a competitor that launched this season on CBS Sports with money troubles from the onset. The league didn't make it through its first year and ultimately may have a legacy of gambling technology instead of anything that happened on the field.

Fox acquired the rights to WWE SmackDown for more than $1 billion over five years that kicks off this September on the broadcast network.