Sports betting action (think: spread, ML and O/U) increased in volume – albeit modestly – from Week 1 to Week 2 of the XFL season. PointsBet Trader Andrew Mannino called the sustained betting interest “an encouraging sign [for the upstart football league’s future].” The company’s Director of Communications Patrick Eichner explained that “[sports betting] equates to interest and eyeballs. It may not be the original metric for viewership, but it’s a good indicator.” For what it’s worth, “the action was good Week 1 of the AAF and then fell through the floor each [subsequent] week.” The Alliance of American Football folded after eight games.
Howie Long-Short: From a sports betting perspective, the XFL’s second weekend got off to a hot start. PointsBet told JohnWallStreet that there was a “+ 20% increase in turnover from Saturday of Week 1 to Saturday of Week 2.” While the presence of the hometown Guardians on the February 15th slate gave the NJ-based operator a boost (remember, the team played on Sunday in Week 1), one off-shore sportsbook reported that it too saw an uptick in wagers placed last Saturday (+9%). Interest cooled on Sunday (understandable with the NBA ASG and Daytona 500 scheduled), but PointsBet still reported overall growth on the league’s second weekend. Mannino indicated that from a volume standpoint the XFL’s weekly four-game slate stacks up comparably to a highly anticipated UFC card.
The majority of the action PointsBet has taken thus far on the league has come from a betting public “that’s just having fun watching games on television.” Mannino believes that the same unknowns deterring sharps from betting on XFL games (think: the players, coaches, schemes and rules) are responsible for sparking an “uptick in in-play betting” amongst recreational gamblers (i.e. NFL games see a greater percentage of wagers placed pre-game). “Fans identify the one entity on the field that they know (think: Cardale Jones) and take a shot [on a bet] or they decide once the game gets going [and they see how it’s being played] that there’s an opportunity to interject themselves [into the action]. It’s a reflection of where culture is now. Fans want to bet on the game [they’re watching].” Of course, it’s the “quality of the on-field product” and the “overall promotion of the league” that has fans tuning in. The XFL’s decision to embrace sports betting (think: displaying odds on screen and permitting talk of wagering during the game broadcast) has also likely helped to drive in-game bettors.
With so many unknowns, PointsBet acknowledges that both market movement and action taken have been helpful benchmarks in the XFL linemaking process. Their strategy has worked, thus far. The book has come away with “slight victories” in each of the first two weeks. The Defenders 27-0 shutout win over the Guardians helped to ensure PointsBet came out on top in Week 2. As expected, there was heavy action on the local team (listed as a 7-point underdog after winning 23-3 in Week 1).
Fan Marino: Despite week over week declines in D.C. (-12.5%) and Houston (-4%) and the league’s smallest crowd turnout to date in Los Angeles (14,979 fans), net attendance rose +9.5% (to 76,285 fans) during the XFL’s second weekend. The Seattle Dragons’ home opener drew more than 29,000 off-setting more intimate crowds elsewhere.
While the national television ratings will be announced later today, it has been reported that Week 2 viewership was strong in the local markets. In St. Louis, the BattleHawks drew a number (6.0 rating) nearly 2x that of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blues (3.1 rating) on Sunday evening (both were on cable). And in Seattle, the Dragons pulled a 7.6 rating (+18.8% over Week 1) despite nearly 60K prospective eyeballs being in attendance at Centurylink Field.
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