XFL Fate Hangs On Postseason

The XFL’s postseason games next month will determine not only the first XFL champion but also the future of the fledging football league.

During the past week, the two partners in the league — World Wrestling Federation Entertainment and NBC — have made it clear in separate published reports that the partnership is seriously strained and might not last another season.

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol told the Washington Post in a story published Sunday that the XFL “will have to show a market swing in the ratings in the postseason for it to have a real shot beyond this year” and that “a decision whether to go or not to go would be made no later than the end of April.” An NBC spokesman said Monday that the network would not comment beyond Ebersol’s published statements. As for the rest of this season’s XFL games, NBC will not allow its affiliates on the West Coast to air the games on tape delay, something the stations have long been asking for, he confirmed.

WWFE chairman Vincent McMahon told the New York Times on Saturday that he is prepared for NBC to seek an early exit from its two-year deal. Because he firmly believes that the league has no future without a broadcast partner, WWFE is talking with UPN about becoming the XFL’s primary broadcast partner.