Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was interviewed by WSBT radio earlier this week and among the many topics discussed, one was the potential for a Notre Dame network. Swarbrick told the station that there will be a Notre Dame Network although he didn’t give a time frame or go into specifics.
There will be a Notre Dame Network, but people sort of envision that in traditional terms of something dramatic and new. You’ll sort of grow into it as you produce more and more digital programming and distribute it more broadly, and we’re committed to that.
What is central to our ability to really build out of a viable network is the increased delivery of broadband video to homes. Texas is a cable platform, because they have dense geography. Ours is the inverse of that. We have fans everywhere – not a huge concentration in one cable market. And so we’re going to be really well-positioned, as technology advances here, and we’re spending our time now building our digital programming.
Ever since Texas announced its $300 million, 20 year deal with ESPN to build a Texas network, it has been widely speculated that Notre Dame would soon follow and it makes a lot of sense for them to do so. Notre Dame, more so than any other school, has a nationwide fan base. Looking at the traffic levels for UHND, it shows just how spread out Notre Dame’s fans are. The top 3 cities sending traffic to UHND are New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago and only 3 of the top 10 cities sending traffic are even in the state of Indiana – South Bend, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne.
Somewhat surprisingly, Columbus is the city sending the 6th most traffic to UHND, but back to the idea of a Notre Dame Network.
Had Notre Dame experienced more success on the field over the last decade, its possible that the Irish could have blazed this trail already. With Texas and now Oklahoma moving forward with their own networks, it is only logical for Notre Dame to follow suit. While not being in a conference has its benefits, one of the drawbacks is Notre Dame reportedly makes less money off of its TV deal with NBC than schools from the major conferences like the Big 10, SEC, and Big 12 get. Building a network of its own would give Notre Dame another revenue stream that it would be able to enjoy all of the profits from.
Money reasons aside, having a network will be a handy recruiting tool as well and if more schools follow Texas and Oklahoma’s lead, it will almost become necessary. For as popular as Notre Dame is, we always read quotes from recruits from different areas of the country, usually from the South, who say they know very little about Notre Dame early on in the process. Having a channel where you control the programming would be just another tool for Brian Kelly and staff to use.
It will be interesting to see what role NBC/Comcast plays in the development of a Notre Dame network. Will Notre Dame look to make this independently of NBC or will they work with the sole broadcaster of Notre Dame football games for over 20 years? NBC has already made more Notre Dame programming available since their merger with Comcast such as the day of classic Notre Dame games on Versus this past St. Patrick’s Day so it would make sense if the two continued working together on such a network.
Swarbrick has really been doing an excellent job of running the athletics department at Notre Dame and this would just be another feather in his cap.