The season opener of the new United States Football League on Saturday, April 16 will be simulcast on NBC and Fox, the networks said Tuesday, a rare occurrence in the world of sports TV.
The eight-team spring pro league’s inaugural game will pit the New Jersey Generals against the Birmingham Stallions, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, AL, where all the league’s games will be played, the league said today. NBC Sports will handle pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage while Fox Sports will produce the in-game coverage. All will be carried by both networks, and the same ads will run during the telecast on both outlets.
“The first game played in any new league is itself historical and having the USFL’s inaugural game simulcast by NBC and Fox makes it even more so,” Fox Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks said. “It’s rare when two competitors can come together and see how cooperation can lead to long-term benefit, and it wouldn’t be possible without having terrific relationships with Pete, Jon Miller, and so many others at NBC Sports.”
“Having two broadcast networks combine and start something like the USFL is not only unique but represents our commitment to making spring football succeed,” said Pete Bevacqua, Chairman, NBC Sports. “We’re excited about the opportunity, and we appreciate the partnership and cooperation that we’ve had with Eric and his team at Fox Sports.”
NBC Sports and Fox Sports each have multi-year agreements with the league as official broadcast partners, with Fox Sports controlling the league via USFL HoldCo, LLC. As part of the rights deal, over the course of the first season NBC Sports will air 22 games (nine each on NBC and USA Network, and four on Peacock) as will Fox Sports (14 on Fox, eight on FS1).
A full scheduled has not been announced for the league, which is not affiliated with the prior incarnation of the USFL that existed from 1983-85. The new league however does have names and cities retaining their old USFL roots. The teams include the Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers and Tampa Bay Bandits in the South Division, and the Generals, Michigan Panthers, Pittsburgh Maulers and Philadelphia Stars in the North Division.
Each team will play a 10-game schedule, followed by semifinals between the top two teams in each division, and a championship game between division winners. All games will be played in Birmingham.
While sporting events often air on multiple platforms and even on multiple networks (a broadcaster and NFL Network on Thursday Night Football, for example), simulcasts among rival broadcast nets is much less frequent. The networks said today that the outside a schedule-tweaked 2007 NFL game that aired on CBS, NBC and NFL Network, the last such simulcast scheduled sports competition came in 1967 when both NBC and CBS aired Super Bowl I.
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