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For the first time since Super Bowl I in 1967, two broadcast networks will simulcast a professional football game.
On Saturday April 16, NBC and Fox will both air the inaugural game from the new United States Football League, a new spring league launched and controlled by Fox Sports. The game, which will originate from Birmingham, Alabama, will see the New Jersey Generals take on Birmingham Stallions, with Fox to produce the game itself, and NBC producing the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows.
The last time two broadcasters carried the same game was Super Bowl I in 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. NBC and CBS both carried that game.
The USFL originally launched in 1983 and served as a springboard for future NFL stars like Doug Flutie and Herschel Walker. It also counted Donald Trump as an owner of the Generals. The league ultimately folded after just a few seasons.
Fox announced plans to revive it last year, and later brought on NBC as a second broadcast partner. With the NFL dominating the TV ratings in the fall and winter months, spring leagues have occasionally popped up to keep some of that momentum going during what is otherwise a slow part of the year for sports.
“Having two broadcast networks combine and start something like the USFL is not only unique but represents our commitment to making spring football succeed,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports in a statement.
“It’s rare when two competitors can come together and see how cooperation can lead to long-term benefit,” added Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks.
By simulcasting the game, NBC and Fox are hoping to give the new league an early ratings jolt that past efforts haven’t succeeded with. In the future, the USFL may need to contend with another spring league: A revived XFL, which was sold in 2020 to Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital, and plans to relaunch within the next year.
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