The first night of the Alliance of American Football drew promising ratings for CBS, averaging 2.9 million viewers from 9 to 11 p.m. ET.
As SportsTVRatings noted, the AAF outdrew ABC's NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets (2.5 million).
CBS broadcast the inaugural AAF games beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The Orlando Apollos earned a 40-6 win over the Atlanta Legends, while the San Antonio Commanders triumphed 15-6 over the San Diego Fleet.
AAF co-founder Bill Polian talked up the league ahead of its debut, per the Tribune-Review:
"We've done this in nine months because of so many great former NFL people who are excited to do it, excited to be in it. We started with nothing, and we [opened] it up on Saturday with eight teams playing what I think will be pretty good football.
"That's a credit to the people involved. We could not have done it if we had not had quality former NFL people."
Of course, Week 1 ratings will mean very little to the viability of the league—there were going to be some curious viewers. The XFL famously debuted in 2001 to massive ratings but folded after one season because viewers turned away from the product.
The AAF could use some work. Offensive line play was particularly hard to watch, with a few quarterbacks taking hard shots because of missed blocking assignments.
Viewers will get a better idea of the long-term viability of the AAF as the regular season progresses. If the league keeps ratings in this range, it'll be a major success. If things taper off, this could be another one-and-done pro football startup.