NFL Alternative United Football League Inks New Broadcast Deal with CBS

July 27, 2012

CBS Sports Network has announced that it has signed a deal to broadcast the United Football League games starting this autumn.

The deal represents a small boost to the four-year-old league that has been attempting to gain traction as an alternative to the NFL with franchises in U.S. territories without a professional club such as Las Vegas and Virginia.

Over the years, other attempts at launching a viable alternative to the NFL have failed including the USFL in the 1980’s and Vince McMahon’s XFL a decade ago. The UFL seemed to be headed to a similar fate. Last year, the league reportedly experienced some financial problems that caused the delay of the season. The team located in Hartford was contracted, and negotiations for TV deals with CBS and TNT failed.

Headed into the 2012 season, the UFL has found new luck and announced Thursday that a deal had been reached for coverage on CBS Sports, a cable network that reaches 99 million households.

The eight-week season will kick off on Sept. 19. The plan is for CBS to televise two games a week — on Wednesday and Friday, two days that the NFL have not yet claimed for any games.

Unlike past leagues, the UFL has always stressed that it doesn’t see itself as a competitor to the NFL. The new league has recruited heavily from the NFL ranks. Its first commissioner was a former executive with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The league has famous former NFL coaches that run teams including Marty Schottenheimer and Jim Fassel, and its player ranks have included former NFL pros like Jeff Garcia, Josh McCown, J.P. Losman and Daunte Culpepper.

“Fans have an appetite for football at all levels and we’re excited to showcase the UFL,” said Dan Weinberg, senior vice president for programming at CBS Sports Network in a statement.