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New Football League is doomed to fail

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The Alliance of American Football is a new football league set to start games the week after the Superbowl in 2019. Just like the XFL, the UFL, the USFL this league is doomed to fail regardless of the altruistic and statistical bloviating by it’s CEO Charlie Ebersol.

Football is the most popular sport and television event in America with NFL and major college games dominating ratings, but getting people to care about another league with inferior players, silly rule changes and minimal television exposure is a tough sell in the modern media market.

The two biggest hurdles for a new football league to are simple. The first is that there a not enough quality player to fill out another league and Ebersol’s hyperbolic statements about the number of unemployed players and their potential shows his naivete.

“There are tens of thousands of players who don’t have a job, which translates into hundreds of Kurt Warner’s,” Ebersol said in an article with the New York Times.

If this were true that would mean that the NFL routinely cuts dozens of potential hall of fame players each year. Kurt Warner and his circumstance was a one in a million and to suggest that there are “hundreds” of him who are cut by the NFL is not only insulting to Kurt Warner, it is just plain stupid.

The other hurdle for the AAF is getting fans to care about a new product in a market that is already ridiculously oversaturated with football content and entertainment in general. The fact is, no one wants to return to watching bad football a week after the pinnacle of the NFL season.

Ebersol and his partner Bill Polian, a former hall of fame general manager, are also building their new league around the notion that tens of millions of people play fantasy football and after the NFL season they are left with nothing to do. Their belief that people will play fantasy football for their league is itself a fantasy.

Fantasy football’s success is largely build on brand and name recognition of players, no one wants to research and draft NFL rejects that they have never heard of when there is plenty of offseason NFL content for them to devour. That doesn’t even take into account massive amount of media content put out by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and major networks that are consumed by the younger generation which the AAF is targeting.

The only way a new league like this or any new business survives is to have a long term plan to lose money until it can build a base. Ebersol says they have a seven to 10 year plan for the league and that people will have to be patient. But with only two major investors, Founders Fund and Cherin Group, time will tell if they are going to continue to pour money into an idea that is losing money.
They announced a partnership with CBS sports but it turns out that only the opening game and the championship game will be televised on their main station. The rest of the games will rely on people watching games on their phone or computer via the app they plan to roll out.

I predict a maximum four year lifespan for this new ill fated league with constant changes to the model before they finally realize what every other league has already come to understand. Just because people are obsessed with football doesn’t mean they are going to watch a terrible product because “football” is in the name and terrible is exactly what these games will be.

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New Football League is doomed to fail