Many of you probably watched this weekend’s launch of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) League. If you didn’t, it might be time to start: CBS drew 2.9 million views between 9-11 p.m. ET for the game on Saturday night — which was actually more those who viewed the NBA’s Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder matchup at the same time.
In testing the notion that Americans’ appetite for football is truly insatiable, and in kicking off the AAF the week after the Super Bowl, it seems that the AAF’s hunch was proven (at least for now). So let’s learn more!
- A professional American football league founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian
- Comprised of 416 players across 8 teams (52 players per team)
- Self-described developmental/complementary league for the NFL (not in direct competition)
How is the AAF different from the NFL?
- Games include no television timeouts and 60 percent fewer “full-screen commercials,” with the league aiming for an approximate game length of 150 minutes (compared to just over 180 in the NFL)
- There are no extra point kicks; teams must attempt two-point conversions after a touchdown.
- Defenses are not allowed to rush more than five players on or across the line of scrimmage.
- There are no kickoffs; possessions at the start of each half, and after each score, begin on a team’s own 25-yard line (similar to NFL touchbacks).
Simple enough. What else is different?
- Officiating has a 9th member, called a “Sky Judge,” an off-field ref who reviews every play using technology (like a booth review).
- The Sky Judge can call or take away penalties missed or made by the field officials (you’re welcome, Saints fans)
- In lieu of an onside kick, a team can keep possession of the ball by attempting a scrimmage play from their own 28-yard line and gaining at least 12 yards.
- The play clock runs only 35 seconds, five seconds shorter than in the NFL.
- Playoffs will consist of four teams, the top two teams from each conference.
How many former CAA players are in the AAF & who has the most?
There are currently 11 former CAA players in the AAF.
- The league offers player bonuses and scholarships; player bonuses are based on performance and fan interaction, and players could earn a year’s scholarship in post-secondary education for each season of play.
- Players are expected to get three-year, non-guaranteed contracts worth $250,000 plus health insurance with an escape clause to go to the NFL.
- The league also has an incentive system that will pay members of a team’s offensive and defensive units for statistical achievements and will also pay players to perform community service; however, the exact details of this incentive system were not yet finalized at the start of the 2019 season.
- For the fans, in addition to a fantasy league built into mobile broadcasts, low ticket prices (each team will have a $35/game sideline seat option) and inexpensive food are planned.
- If you’re in a team’s market, try to get to a game in-person; either way, check out the overall schedule here.
- The AAF announced broadcast deals with CBS Sports; opening day (consisting of two regionally-televised games) aired on CBS, as will the championship game.
- CBS Sports Network will air at least one game per week and one of the playoff games.
- TNT will broadcast two games per season (one regular season and a playoff game) while NFL Network airs two weekly games.
- The league’s mobile app will offer live streaming of all games except those broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.
- Turner’s B/R Live will stream one game a week. Select games are also carried on SiriusXM.