ESPN tasked to deliver XFL broadcasts to more than 100 million homes worldwide


BRISTOL, Conn. (Heartland Newsfeed) — ESPN International will be delivering global coverage of the 2020 XFL season around the world via ESPN-branded platforms and its distribution partners, according to a press release Wednesday.

Distribution of XFL games will be in six of seven continents (sorry, Antarctica), meaning that more than 100 million households in more than 200 countries and territories will be able to tune in.

Linear networks owned by Disney or ESPN will be broadcast in various languages, depending on the locality, which includes Latin America, Brazil, the Caribbean islands, the Pacific Rim, plus all of Europe, the Middle East and southeastern Asia.

ESPN Player, Disney’s over-the-top streaming provider for ESPN, will be available in the Middle East, Africa and select territories within southeastern Asia and parts of Pan-Europe.

Additional coverage for the XFL will be via TSN in Canada, BT in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Sony in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Israel, Russia and India.

“The XFL will debut an exciting brand of American football that we are thrilled to introduce to sports fans around the world by providing an expansive and robust global platform on ESPN networks, services and distribution partnerships,” said Tim Bunnell, ESPN senior vice president of international programming, production and marketing.

“Our partnership with ESPN International allows us to reach a global audience from the start,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL president & COO. “We’re both on a mission to bring fans more of the game we all love, and we’re delighted that ESPN International will showcase our fast-paced, up-tempo style of American football across its extensive network of branded platforms and distribution partners.”

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The XFL will seek to distinguish itself from the NFL with a rule book designed to allow for fast-paced and exciting games with more action and meaningful plays, plus key gameplay innovations design to limit game stoppages. The rules also encourage more kickoff and punt returns, as well as the elimination of the extra point kick following a touchdown in favor of a three-tier extra point system — varying from a one-point play from the two-yard line to a possibly crucial three-point play from the 10-yard line.

With ESPN’s coverage comes unprecedented access levels, from live sideline interviews by reporters to production teams gaining access to team communications systems by listening in on coach-player conversations. Many players are likely to be fitted with microphones, which will bring fans closer to the action than ever before.

The coverage of the 2020 season will include the 10-week regular season, the XFL Playoffs and the XFL Championship game, all of which are produced by three Disney television properties: ESPN, ABC and FOX.

XFL Opening Weekend kicks off Saturday, Feb. 8 with the debut game between the D.C. Defenders and Seattle Dragons at 2 p.m. Eastern on ABC, followed by the Los Angeles Wildcats/Houston Roughnecks game at 5 p.m. on FOX.

Sunday’s games will kick off at 2 p.m. Eastern on FOX as the Tampa Bay Vipers and New York Guardians face-off, followed by the St. Louis BattleHawks/Dallas Renegades pigskin battle on ESPN at 5 p.m.

The XFL Playoffs is scheduled to take place April 18-19, with the winners advancing to the April 26 season finale on ESPN.

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The league is owned by Alpha Entertainment, a company owned by WWE chairman Vince McMahon to operate separately from WWE.

Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dogs Sparky and Buster.