Time Runs Out on XFL


After a season of steadily declining ratings, NBC and World Wrestling
Federation Entertainment Inc. have decided to fold their fledgling XFL
professional-football league.

'While we believe it is an extraordinary accomplishment to have created a new
professional-football league in what amounts to less than a year's time, we feel
it is in the best interests of our shareholders and our partners to discontinue
the XFL,' WWF chairman Vince McMahon said in a prepared statement.

The XFL, which was formed amid much hoopla last year, was expected to be a
ratings powerhouse. But aside from a strong initial showing, ratings for the
'smashmouth football' league were basically toothless.

Although it turned in an impressive 12.9 rating in the first two hours of its
debut broadcast on NBC, viewers began leaving in droves in subsequent
broadcasts. Its April 21 championship game, aired on NBC, earned a 2.1 rating,
less than one-half the 4.5 rating NBC had guaranteed advertisers.

The league earned higher ratings on United Paramount Network, as well as on
cable network TNN: The National Network, but apparently not enough to go on.

UPN and the XFL were reportedly in negotiations early Thursday regarding
airing a second season, but they could not reach an agreement. 'The deal broke
down,' McMahon said in a conference call with reporters.

However, McMahon refused to blame the XFL's demise on his partners.

'NBC had a great deal of faith in me and my organization,' McMahon added. 'I
feel we let NBC down in terms of holding up to our end of the deal. Try as we
might, had we had more time, we may have been able to do things a little

Both NBC and the WWF are expected to take a $50 million pretax loss related
to the XFL.