Deadline, the entertainment news website, reported on Monday that UFL games will air Friday nights on Fox beginning next season. Fox revealed their 2024-2025 schedule at the network upfronts this week, traditionally the time when broadcasters unveil their fall lineups to advertisers.

Currently, Fox airs WWE Smackdown every Friday night. In September, Smackdown moves to the USA Network, and the plan is to fill that timeslot with sports programming. Fox will air college football on Friday nights this fall, followed by college basketball in the winter and then the UFL.

Though Fridays are considered a “dead zone” for network TV given the key demographic (18-49 year olds) are often away from their televisions at this time, it’s a vote of confidence for the league that Fox is giving it prime time real estate, even if the night isn’t historically desirable. Prime time is where networks charge the most for ad rates.

This does move one game per week out of the Saturday/Sunday comfort zone of football programming. Viewers are accustomed to watching football on those days, and specifically UFL football, which airs all of their games on the weekend this season. That timeslot familiarity is helpful in attracting casual fans. XFL games outside of those days last year did particularly poorly in the ratings.

The announcement of Friday night games comes as a surprise, and raises some questions. Has the UFL already worked out Friday dates with its venues? Does this mean the league has made a decision on whether to start the 2025 season in February, or keep the start date more in line with this season? Will Friday night games be a weekly occurrence, or just a few times throughout the season?

Will the UFL and Fox create special branding for these games in an effort to attract viewers, a la Monday Night Football? What effect, if any, will Friday night games have on attendance? And how does the rest of the weekend shake out – right now, there are two games on Saturdays and two games on Sundays. Will taking one game and moving it to Friday result in two games on Saturday and one on Sunday, or vice versa?

If nothing else, this move reaffirms Fox’s belief in the UFL and their willingness to explore different avenues to attract an audience. It’s a relatively low-risk, high-reward move for the network and the league.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here