St. Louis BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta'amu salutes fans after a victory last weekend in The Dome at America's Center.

St. Louisans continue to quench their football thirst, after being parched for more than four years. The BattleHawks were a big hit for those watching at home as well as fans attending their game Sunday afternoon.

The first pro football game in St. Louis since December 2015, when the NFL’s Rams played their last home game before jilting the city, drew nearly 30,000 fans. That was the biggest crowd thus far in the current version of the XFL, which is back in business after a failed try in 2001.

Television viewership followed suit. According to Nielsen, which tabulates viewership, 8% of homes in the market with a TV watched ESPN’s telecast of the game, in which the BattleHawks pounded New York 29-9. That translates into about 88,000 area residences tuning in to the telecast. In contrast the Houston-Tampa Bay contest, on ABC, drew a 3.5 rating in Houston and a 3.3 figure in Tampa-St. Petersburg. Ratings weren’t immediately available for the weekend’s two XFL games shown on Fox outlets.

This lofty viewership in St. Louis came despite the fact that ESPN customers missed not only the much-hyped introduction to the telecast, when fans were at a frenzy for the team’s home debut, but also the BattleHawks’ first drive. And first home touchdown. That’s because ESPN was showing the conclusion of a college basketball game that ran long, and moved the B-Hawks’ start to ESPNews and had it on its app — both entities that many viewers do not have. (More on this in the “Media Views” column in Friday’s Post-Dispatch.)

Overall, the BattleHawks’ three games to date have averaged a 6.9 rating.

By comparison, the Cardinals averaged a 6.6 rating last season for their games shown on Fox Sports Midwest, and the Blues were at a 3.7. But for perspective, there are many more Cards and Blues games televised, making many individual telecasts less appealing that a novel football game. Plus, many of the local baseball and hockey teams’ contests are played at less advantageous times than the late weekend afternoon slots in which the BattleHawks have been.


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