ALSO ON SLAM!
Wednesday, March 29, 2000
NBC joins WWF in XFLNEW YORK (AP) -- The XFL is going mainstream.
NBC will take a 50 percent stake in the XFL and broadcast the new football league's games under a partnership agreement announced today with the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc.
NBC is also buying $30 million worth of WWFE stock, giving it a 3 percent stake in the company.
The deal would bring pro football back to NBC, which was shut out of the $17.6 billion, eight-year NFL deal negotiated in January 1998. NBC had also tried to form a separate football league with Turner Broadcasting, but gave up the deal after deciding it was too risky.
WWF chief Vince McMahon introduced the XFL last month, saying the start-up costs for the eight-team league would be "somewhere south of $100 million." He said there were already teams slated for New York, Washington, Miami, Orlando, Fla., Los Angeles and San Francisco, with two more teams to be announced.
The league is to open play Feb. 1 for a 10-week season.
"I believe that the combination of these two organizations will make XFL football one of the best built brands in all of sports," McMahon said in a statement.
Ebersol told reporters that the XFL is expected to turn a profit after about three years.
As part of the deal, NBC will become a 50 percent owner and operator of the XFL and its eight teams.
The network will broadcast XFL games during prime time on Saturday nights from February through April after the league starts play on Feb. 3, 2001. It also will broadcast the XFL Championship game, the first of which will be played on April 21, 2000.
The league is to open play Feb. 1, 2001.
This announcement likely ends any speculation of the WWF leaving USA Network in order to join up with CBS for the XFL, and having RAW and Heat air on the CBS-owned TNN.
-- with files from SLAM! Wrestling, CANOE wire services