NBC and Fox will simulcast the return of the USFL on April 16, the first time since the first Super Bowl in 1967 that two rival broadcast TV networks will both air the same live, scheduled sporting event.
The primetime, Saturday night telecast from Birmingham, AL, will feature the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions. The USFL announced its return last year as a newly constituted independent league with eight teams. The league is controlled by Fox Sports through a separate new business entity, and stakeholders stress that it is unaffiliated with the 1980s incarnation, which met an ignominious end. While the NFL has remained a massive TV force in recent years (as last Sunday’s blockbuster playoff ratings attest), all previous alternative pro leagues have fizzled.
For the debut simulcast, NBC Sports will handle pregame, halftime and postgame coverage, using its on-air, production, and technical personnel. Fox Sports will produce the game coverage, which both networks will carry, using its broadcasters, production, and technical staff. The same commercials will run on each network throughout the broadcast. In an announcement, the USFL said specific production details will be revealed in the future.
“Having two broadcast networks combine and start something like the USFL is not only unique but represents our commitment to making spring football succeed,” NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said.
“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,” said Fox Sports CEO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks. “It’s rare when two competitors can come together and see how cooperation can lead to long-term benefit.”
NBC and Fox have multi-year deals with the USFL and will carry all 43 of its regular- and postseason games. The league will soon release a full TV schedule but has already indicated it will have 22 broadcast windows, which it says is more than any regularly scheduled sport in the first half of 2022.