FOX Sports Head Eric Shanks Confirms Friday Move for UFL 2025 Season Games

FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks confirmed last month's reports that the network would be moving United Football League games in 2025 to Friday nights.
Jan 28, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Fox Sports ceo Eric Shanks speaks with the media during Fox Sports media day at the Miami Beach convention center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 28, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Fox Sports ceo Eric Shanks speaks with the media during Fox Sports media day at the Miami Beach convention center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In a Zoom call announcing FOX's new exclusive broadcasting rights pact with NTT IndyCar Series, FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks confirmed Deadline's Nellie Andreeva's report from last month that the network would be moving UFL games in 2025 to Friday nights.

The original Deadline report stated FOX would be replacing the departing WWE Smackdown on Friday nights with sports coverage of college football and basketball, as well as the UFL.

FOX's deal with IndyCar was made possible because the network was able to free up broadcasting windows on weekends. IndyCar CEO Mark D Miles said that the new pact with FOX happened because NBC Sports could not offer the same amount of national broadcast slots.

So in essence, the United Football League took one for the team. The UFL on FOX's move to Friday nights in 2025 was the seed work for the network clearing the slate to strike this new pact.

The 2024 TV schedule for the UFL saw a near-split between the league's broadcast partners/owners, FOX and Disney, with ABC/ESPN airing 21 of the UFL's 43 games. FOX will air the UFL championship game this coming Sunday at 5 pm ET.

What's unclear is how many of the UFL's games on FOX in 2025 will be airing on Friday nights. "Many" is the key word, because that's how Shanks described the UFL shift to AP Sports writer Jenna Fryer during the joined Zoom call.

Another question yet to be answered about presumably half the UFL's 2025 games going to Friday night is the when? The merged league kicked off its 2024 season in late March, just a few short months after government approval of the XFL-USFL merger.

It's possible that the UFL could be kicking off its 2025 slate the week after the Super Bowl in February, but that's not guaranteed nor confirmed at the present date. The IndyCar series season schedule begins on March 2 and extends until late August, so it's possible that there could be a few UFL FOX games on weekends prior to IndyCar's starting point.

ESPN/ABC could be carrying the weekend mantle for UFL games in 2025.

If in fact, all FOX UFL games land on Friday night, it could be a blessing in disguise for the league to have destination programming during the season in a primetime weekday slot on broadcast network television.

The one catch with Friday night programming is attracting young viewers. The UFL on FOX saw a significant spike in the key 18-49 demo from last year's USFL. The Friday shift is not only a factor for viewership but also attendance. Can the UFL attract family crowds in that timeframe? Making those games an event for the young crowd could be beneficial.

A Friday Night Lights feel filled with Beer Snakes.

You can find Mike Mitchell on X @ByMikeMitchell.

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Mike Mitchell

MIKE MITCHELL