AAF 2019: New football league averages nearly 3 million views on opening night

The Alliance of American Football's first two games, broadcast on CBS, drew what should be considered a successful rating for its inaugural event. Between regional action of the San Diego Fleet at the San Antonio Commanders, and the Atlanta Legends at the Orlando Apollos, Nielsen ratings say that both games averaged more than 2.9 million viewers for the 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot. You can check out all the highlights from both games in my takeaways from Saturday.

By comparison, Sports TV Ratings also tweeted that the NBA on ABC averaged 2.524 million viewers in the same time slot. It's not worth getting up in arms about the exact numbers, or which one did better, because there are a few variables at play here. Chiefly, the AAF is novel while the NBA is in the middle of its lengthy regular season. 

Still, an average of nearly 3 million views is a strong start for the AAF, which continues on Sunday, Feb. 10, with a 4 p.m. ET game between the Memphis Express and Birmingham Iron on CBS Sports Network, followed an 8 p.m. game on NFL Network between the Salt Lake Stallions and the Arizona Hotshots. 

The question, of course, is whether the interest will continue into Sunday and beyond. The AAF isn't going to touch NFL ratings -- and as CEO Charlie Ebersol said before, he doesn't view the NFL as a direct competitor -- but if it can maintain eyeballs and interest over the next three months, there will be a lot of momentum for it going into 2020 when it will be joined by the rebooted XFL. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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