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XFL Reaches Global Multi-Year Deal with Walt Disney Company, ESPN

TheWrap logo TheWrap 5/17/2022 Jolie Lash
Dwayne Johnson onstage at Disney's Upfronts (ABC) © Provided by TheWrap Dwayne Johnson onstage at Disney's Upfronts (ABC)

XFL, the football league founded by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale's RedBird Capital Partners has made an exclusive global multi-year agreement with the Walt Disney Company and ESPN.

The deal, which was announced Tuesday by Johnson and Garcia onstage at Disney's Upfronts presentation, which included all of its brands, will mean that every regular-season and playoff game from the XFL will be presented on an ESPN/TWDC platform.

XFL will return Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, and will air through the spring with 40 regular-season matchups, two semifinal playoff games and the championship.

The games will air on a combination of ABC, ESPN networks and FX.

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The deal also includes exclusive content rights across TWDC/ESPN's digital, social and direct-to-consumer outlets like ESPN+. Global rights 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," Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, said in a statement. "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."

In a statement, Garcia said: "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.

"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," her statement concluded.

"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," Johnson said in his statement. "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 in a statement: "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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