The Rock’s $60 Million XFL Loss Falls Short Of The Goal Line 

By CultureBanx Team

  • Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s XFL lost $60M this past season
  • ESPN pays the XFL $20M per season and the league expects to make $100 next season

The XFL, one of football’s biggest sensations led by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, lost $60 million this past season. Following its resurgence this year after Disney (DIS +0.68%) and RedBird Capital Partners, along with Danny Garcia and Johnson paid $23.5 million to take control of the bankrupt sports league, things are not looking up. It may be time for a new playbook in addition to new television contracts.

Why This Matters: The second iteration of the XFL folded in 2020, but Johnson and team were hopeful it would be different this time around. All 43 games of the 2023 season aired across Disney-owned networks including ESPN, ESPN+, FX, and ABC as part of a five-year domestic media rights deal. Nearly one-quarter of the XFL’s income comes from ESPN, which pays the league $20 million per season.

Despite the financial loss Johnson insists that the “league of opportunity” will have long-term success. As of late May, 67 players who participated in the XFL during the 2023 season had been invited to workout for NFL teams. Twenty-two of them signed NFL contracts, according to the XFL.

The Rock wants the league to remain focused on the players and their goals to achieve success in their football careers. The XFL, like the NFL, is more than 70% Black when it comes to players, with two of the league’s eight teams being helmed by Black head coaches/general managers. 

Player contracts are directly correlated to how successful a league is, so The Rock and crew’s new television contract is a big win ahead of teams returning to the field. Prior to the XFL’s shutdown it was projected to bring in $46 million in gross revenues for the 10-game season, but suspended play after five weeks, according to court filings. 

In reality the league averaged 1.9 million television viewers per game and generated nearly $20 million in gross revenues in 2020. The XFL’s 2023 championship game had over 22,000 fans in attendance and was reportedly watched by 1.4 million people on TV.

What’s Next: As a single-entity league, Sports Illustrated reported that all revenue from television rights, ticket sales and endorsements went straight to the XFL to be distributed. The XFL is projecting $100 million in revenue next season, according to Forbes.

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