The first week of XFL 2.0 has come and gone, and the reviews have generally been positive. While some of the talking heads called the league a “farce” and saying, there was a “lack of talent,” 3.3 million viewers tuned in to the first game between the Seattle Dragons and D.C. Defenders, with the number even peaking at 4 million in the game’s final quarter.
If you watched any of the games on ABC, ESPN, FOX or FS1, you noticed that the spread and total were listed right on channel’s scoreboard. There was also plenty of discussion throughout the telecast, and the Vegas Sports and Information Network had two live, in-game BetCasts on iHeartRadio.
Because of that, it certainly gave an incentive for bettors to get themselves immersed in the action.
Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill, said that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the total betting handle at his shop.
“We are embracing the spread from the start,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL president and chief operating officer. “This is a core business strategy for the XFL. We understand that for a lot of our fans, betting on the games has become as essential to the game experience as the helmet, ball and jerseys.
“That’s what we’re gearing up to provide. Our mission and our infrastructure are geared to the sports-betting future that is coming fast. There are incredible opportunities.”
PointsBet said they handled more money in Week 1 of the XFL 2.0 than they did in the whole existence of the since-crumbled Alliance of American Football. It also goes without saying that the XFL 2.0 placed a big emphasis in making this a more bettor-friendly experience.
The new extra-point conversions will perhaps the most influential in determining these final scores. In the XFL 2.0, teams do not kick extra points. Instead, they can earn one point by converting from the two-yard line, two points from the five-yard line, and three points from the 10-yard line.
Say goodbye to those key numbers like three and seven – this is a brand new game.
Only one of the games – Seattle at D.C. – came down to the wire on the spread. Seattle was down 12 and initially kicked a field goal to make it a nine-point deficit. However, a D.C. player ran into the kicker and gave Seattle new life with a chance to score a touchdown and possibly make it a three-point game with the three-point conversation.
That opportunity never came, though, as the Dragons would fumble on a handoff right near the end zone.
Even with the relative unknown, it’s clear that betting and football will go hand-in-hand for the rest of their existence. As for the XFL 2.0, the real challenge it faces is keeping the fans on the edge of their seats, glued to the TV, or actually coming to the stadium for these games.
The answer is right in front of them, and they’ve taken advantage of it early on.