ESPN & XFL reach exclusive multi-year deal to carry all league games starting with 2023 return season

The Walt Disney Company (TWDC), ESPN and the XFL have reached an exclusive, global multi-year agreement that calls for every regular-season and playoff game to be presented on an ESPN/TWDC platform. The professional football league, featuring an ownership group led by Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners, is planning to kick off a return season on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, and continue through the spring with 40 regular-season matchups, two semifinal playoff games and the championship.

The announcement was timed to Garcia and Johnson’s appearance at the Disney Upfront presentation held today in New York.  

XFL matchups will be featured on a combination of ABC, ESPN networks and FX. Additionally, the agreement includes exclusive content rights across TWDC/ESPN’s digital, social and direct-to-consumer outlets such as ESPN+. Specific details on scheduling dates, times and platforms will be determined and announced on a later date. Global rights for TWDC/ESPN are also included in the agreement. 

“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”

“Without question, we have long admired Disney’s distinct ability to engage an expansive consumer fanbase across verticals, while also maintaining a deeply-authentic, nuanced and heartfelt approach to storytelling much like our own,” said Dany Garcia, Chairwoman of the XFL. “To find a partner that honors our foundation and to be able to root our vision of unwavering passion, accessibility and the future of football with Disney as our home, is a dream come true. We are extraordinarily excited to explore the endless possibilities of this partnership – today is surely just the beginning.”

Dwayne Johnson added, “This is a definitive moment for the XFL and the beginning of an incredible, long-term partnership for the league, building on my longstanding, very successful legacy relationship I’ve had with Disney throughout my career. We’re excited to be working with global visionaries that are aligned with the XFL’s values, are true team players and share our ambitious goals to grow the XFL as a global sports and entertainment business. Through the combined power of Disney and the XFL, together we will create a new powerhouse on the sports calendar and bring a dynamic game of football to fans everywhere. Time to ball out.” 

Gerry Cardinale said, “With today’s announcement, the XFL has launched a truly innovative partnership with The Walt Disney Company and its world-class platforms across media, culture, sports and entertainment.  It is a privilege to join forces with the incredibly talented team at Disney and ESPN and bring Dany and Dwayne’s vision for world-class football and live event entertainment to our fans and players.”

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