How Will the XFL Shake Up the NFL & CFL?


The football landscape in North America is one of its most telling. While professional basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, and even rugby transcend the boundary between the US and Canada, that’s not the case when it comes to football. And even within football, there’s a tertiary league set to shake things up, or die trying (once again).

The NFL is the longest-running football league, founded back in 1920. However, the AFL and NFL didn’t officially merge until the first Super Bowl back in 1967. That means the CFL, founded in 1958, is the oldest modern football league. While the NFL commands North American viewership, the CFL is a staple—and despite financial issues back in the 1990s and early 2000s, it’s not likely to go anywhere.

The XFL is the youngest league—and it’s still attempting to cut its teeth in the North American market. The original XFL was launched by the WWE’s Vince McMahon back in 2002. The original league flopped, as did its 2020 reboot. However, McMahon sold the venture to Redbird Capital—which is owned by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia.

The XFL has since been rebooted and is expected to launch in 2023. With a format that’s designed to simplify football playmaking and rules while also maximizing excitement, all eyes are on the XFL. But will it succeed? Let’s explore how it may shake up the industry.

A Whole New Market for Bettors

The XFL will need to find its place with sportsbooks. At the moment, NFL odds are some of the most diverse available from online sportsbooks. Fans can wager on player props, point spreads, team props, halftime markets, and even quarter markets. This allows bettors to wager on micro-outcomes within the game, as well as those unrelated to the game’s outcome.

The same goes for CFL betting. The markets are incredibly varied because football fans like to dive deep into stats. By exploring granular data points, they can forecast some of the micro-outcomes mentioned above. But what about the XFL?

If the XFL is going to succeed, fans will want to explore the league via betting options. At the moment, sportsbooks haven’t focused on the XFL—and some may not right away. It’s normal that a new league will demonstrate the quality of play before sportsbooks will forecast outcomes and offer lines on them. But if the XFL is going to succeed in the long run, it will need some attention from oddsmakers starting in 2024.

A Brand New Path for Rookies

CFL Football

Another way that the XFL will shake up the football landscape in North America is by offering a new path for rookies. When it comes to the NFL and CFL, most top players are selected from the NCAA and other collegiate football programs. The cream of the crop goes to the NFL Draft, while other rookies and free agents tend to be funnelled into the CFL.

But with the XFL adding eight new teams to the professional football market, rookies (as well as undrafted free agents) are likely going to head to the XFL. Some older players may also seek out a better payday and more consistent play in the XFL – or the USFL.

For those who don’t know, Fox Sports recently launched the United States Football League, a complex-based venture owned by the news network. Like the USFL, the XFL will run as a minor league. And like the XFL, the USFL is present in eight cities. This means football rookies now have unprecedented options when signing with a new team.

Fan Fodder for the Offseason

The NFL and CFL run concurrently, which has presented challenges for fans who enjoy watching both leagues. However, the XFL won’t be competing directly for viewership. One way that organizers are looking to leverage football interest is by setting up the XFL league to run during the NFL and CFL’s off-seasons.

This means that North American football fans will have non-stop access to watching games. From August until February, the NFL and CFL run. The XFL will run from late winter until the end of spring—at which point, Fox’s USFL starts to run.

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