New AAF League to Scratch That Football Itch
January 31, 2019
By Jeff Boyle
Fear not, football fans; after Super Sunday you’ll still be able to get your fix of America’s most popular sport. The Alliance of American Football League (“AAF”) debuts this February. Aside from the on-the-field action, there are many business aspects of the AAF that could make (or break) this nascent league. (Interestingly, the previously one-and-done-season XFL is also attempting a reboot in 2020.)
The AAF will operate as a single entity, with each of the eight initial teams being owned and operated by the league, as opposed to the NFL where the teams are run by individual owners. Whereas other upstart football leagues (USFL and XFL) were positioned as competitors to the NFL juggernaut (and ultimately failed), the AAF can be seen as an NFL developmental league (notably, its contracts include opt-out clauses to the NFL), which the backers feel gives it a better chance at success. For more information, check out our recent Boyleing Point podcast.)
The executive and coaching personnel associated with the AAF are well known, tried and true football minds. And the AAF investors are certainly an eclectic mix—in a good way—who come from a variety of backgrounds that might just be the ingredients for success. Included are Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder; The Chernin Group, which owns the up-and-coming Barstool Sports; Jared Allen, former NFL player; and tech titan Keith Rabois. With the combined media, marketing, technology, and player expertise, these may form the foundation for long-term success.
One of the keys for any successful modern-day sports league is an enhanced fan experience. There has been excitement surrounding the AAF’s mobile app—which could be a game changer relative to the viewing experience. While the release date for this is being kept under wraps, rumors swirl that it could debut during a highly stylized Super Bowl commercial. Other wrinkles intended to create an exciting fan experience include a legalized gambling component, an interesting team of broadcasters, strategically placed team locations and more.
While we haven’t even had the coin flip for the first AAF game yet, thus far the league seems to have drawn up a solid game plan. Time will tell.