The Rock’s Reborn XFL Faces ‘Uphill Battle’ After Two Failures

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After two failed launches and a bankruptcy, the XFL is getting set for a third try that even the league’s new owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson acknowledges will be a challenge.

“It’s an uphill battle — but we’re hungry, humble and no one will outwork us,” the entertainer said Thursday on Twitter. The group is working on the next steps for its relaunch and plans to provide more details soon, according to a statement.

The potential rival to the National Football League wassold while in bankruptcy in August to a group of investors for $15 million. Johnson, who leads the group, said in his post thatplay would resume in 2022. His group includes Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners.

@TheRock

XFL returns SPRING 2022
As owners, we’re proud to champion our XFL players, coaches, cities and fans into an electrifying 2022 season!
It’s an uphill battle – but we’re hungry, humble and no one will outwork us.
A league of culture, passion & purpose.
#XFL
#Spring2022

2:01 PM · Oct 1, 2020

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“They’ve learned from what didn’t work, and they’ve got a decent shot to make it work going forward,” sports-industry consultant Lee Berke said. “The ratings were relatively good, particularly in the first part of the season.”

Last season, the league found a market for viewers even while hemorrhaging cash. TV deals with ESPN andFox Corp. helped bolster its presence, but when Covid-19 hit, the parent company ran out of time and money. New TV deals will have to be struck, Berke said.

League owner Alpha Entertainment filed for bankruptcy in April. The upstart XFL was founded in 2001 by Vince McMahon, best known for makingWorld Wrestling Entertainment Inc. into a global business. The football league faltered after a season but was revived by McMahon in 2018, with plans for play to resume this year. He tried to buy the XFL out of bankruptcy, but withdrew in May after opposition from creditors.

Berke said the new investors are more stable and resourceful, which will be strong assets going forward. He believes waiting out the pandemic is a wise decision.

According to Berke, the window between Super Bowl and the NBA playoffs represents an opportunity for the XFL to appeal to sports enthusiasts. Rich Greenfield, a media and technology analyst at LightShed Partners, said it’s too early to tell if the league will be successful this round.

“There is tremendous demand for football, and so I think it’s sort of obvious why people keep trying,” Greenfield said.

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