The Gist: NFL fans are tepid to follow a new football league, even in the off-season.
Watch out, football fans, there’s a new league in town. The sports community was abuzz late last month when the Alliance of American Football (AAF) made itself known.
The league, planning to launch in February 2019 after the Super Bowl, promises shorter games, fewer commercials, and eight new teams to cheer for.
While launching a new league isn’t novel, (we’re looking at you United Football League and the United States Football League) the timing to announce a new league couldn’t be better. The NFL has been suffering from falling ratings, questions of player safety and fan opposition in the last season alone. Is AAF coming up at the perfect time when NFL fans are looking for something else?
It looks unlikely. Only 18% of US adults are at all likely to watch the new league. Compared to NFL viewership, the AAF has a lot of work to do.
And what about NFL fans? Since AAF runs in the spring, theoretically, NFL fans could follow both leagues without having to choose.
It looks like even die-hard NFL fans only have a passing interest in following the AAF. The majority of casual NFL fans are not at all likely to follow the AAF.
The AAF might not be for all NFL fans, but we found an interesting pattern between fantasy sports and the new league.
People who are “very likely” to follow the AAF are also much more likely to have played fantasy sports. AAF founders have claimed the league will appeal to the many fantasy football players who want to continue playing after the NFL season ends. It’s a small group, but the AAF might find its audience with that particular subset of football fans.
We’re a year out from AAF’s kickoff, but it’s no stretch to say the league has a lot of work to do. They can’t rely on NFL fans to pick up the AAF games in the offseason, but they do have a small start with fantasy sports participants.