NBC and Notre Dame

Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Air Force 2011
Oct 8, 2011; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly does an interview with NBC after the game with Air Force Falcons at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame defeated Air Force 59-23. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

NBC has owned the exclusive rights to Notre Dame home games since 1991, but that could soon come to an end. The newest contract between the National Broadcasting Company and Notre Dame football will have run its course at the end of 2015. Of course the network will most likely want to keep the exclusive rights, but does it make sense for the Irish and NBC to continue the long-standing relationship?

As of now Notre Dame receives approximately $15 million a year from the network, which is a bargain for NBC. Other than its Sunday Night Football coverage of the NFL, and its NHL coverage, the once powerful network has struggled to stay relevant in the billion dollar sports broadcasting industry. The networks recently rebranded 24 hour dedicated sports channel, NBC Sports, is struggling to gain viewership and ratings, and other than its NHL coverage, the channel doesn’t currently provide a lot of reasons for mainstream sports fans to tune in.

After paying a reported $250 million to acquire the rights to the Barclays English Premier League, the network will start to broadcast its soccer matches this Fall on their primary channel, its 24 hour dedicated sports network, and will even stream games online for fans to watch. NBC also still owns the exclusive rights to the “Triple Crown” of Horse racing, but it is hardly considered a consistent revenue generator for the network. While other networks have paid up to $200 million for the rights to broadcast certain conferences, those deals includes both home and away games, and men’s and women’s basketball also. Now is the time for NBC to decide if the price they pay is worth the return of investment they receive, as under their current deal, they only have access to all home football games, and a handful
of Irish hockey games.

There have been rumors and speculation that the Fighting Irish may forgo a contract extension with NBC and choose the path recently traveled by the Texas Longhorns, and start their own network. While the Longhorn Network still struggles for ratings and is trying to find its way into homes other than just in Texas, it still provides an extra $8 million for the university and its athletic programs per year. One would have to assume that if Notre Dame decided to
take the same route, it would have the potential to double, if not triple that, as the Irish are a very strong national product, and enjoy an even stronger following. As much as we would love to see a channel that is dedicated solely to Irish athletics, it is a risky proposition, and we are not sure if the powers that be are ready to fully embrace that type of endeavor.

While the Irish will officially join the ACC on July 1st, it obviously will not be in football. ESPN has just signed a deal with Atlantic Coast Conference, that will disperse approximately $17 million per year to each and every football member, no matter how awful they are. The Irish will not see a penny from this contract, but in turn will retain 100% ownership of its football generated revenue. So this leaves the door open for NBC to continue its Irish coverage, but it would seem that they will have to match, if not exceed the deal that ESPN has worked out with the current stable of ACC football programs.

There is chance that if each party decided to go their own way, they could find a deal that would stand to be more a profitable one, than the current relationship offers. The question is does either party want to take that chance, and risk severing ties that may not be able to mended. Keep in mind that NBC just acquired rights to a sport that averages only 136,000 viewers here in the US, while the last regular- season game the Irish played on national television drew over 14 million viewers.

The Irish couldn’t have picked a better time to climb its way back to the upper echelon of college football, because if we are being honest here, a strong Irish football program is a hot commodity on a national level, and NBC knows this.
If Notre Dame can come close to duplicating their prior season on the field, they would place themselves in a position of power and leverage for the upcoming renegotiations.

At this point it seems to make sense that the Irish and NBC continue on, and while the specifics of any new contract may be a bit different, it should continue to be a profitable venture for both sides. The Irish will most definitely ask for a minimum of $17.1 million during the exchange of wants and needs, if not more, and if NBC is smart they will concede on most, if not all of Notre Dame’s demands. The relationship has been an amicable one for over twenty years, and we see no reason as to why that wouldn’t continue. If the Irish continue to have a strong showing on the field, it provides NBC with ratings, profit, and a strong footprint in the ever popular world of college football.

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  2. As far as network production I feel that ESPN and Fox sports would be better options. Now the arguement that NBC only has ND football is a good one, but they have no other programing for ND or ND sports. On their cable channel they do show the game from the previous week and have a once a week half hour show on ND football. I think that ESPN or Fox would pay top dollar and provide better programing. Also, I would like to see ND grads and ex-players should be the commentators. I really enjoyed Aaron Taylor’s broadcast of the Air Force game. He gave a perspective of playing at ND. NBC pissed me off by hiring and ex-USC grad to do the game. ND has a broadcast journalism school, get some homers. As far as politics and religion, I stay away from that on this board. It’s just about footb

  3. irish,

    Always a pleasure to read your unique posts and take on ND football.

    I was joking of course about EWTN carrying ND football. I don’t really watch EWTN or religious broadcasting in general. Perhaps I should. So who is Fr. Mitch? Are you referring to Fr. Mitch Pacwa? I’ve read his apologetics stuff before and he’s very solid. However, if he really was rooting for Bama over Our Lady’s school, then I’m not only disappointed in him but fear that Fr. Mitch has earned himself a few centuries (if not a millennium) in purgatory:)!

    The basketball unis are just dreadful. Enough said.

    Ron Burgundy is a troll. Enough said. I’m sure he’s not Catholic and by his boorishness I doubt he’s even a Christian. If he is, somehow he skipped the Sunday school lessons about the “Golden Rule”. But when you have a cheap grace theology like so many of our evangelical brothers and sisters do, then you don’t really care much about following the teachings of Jesus, after all, you said a “magical” prayer and now you can pretty much live, do, and say what you please. The wonders of “once saved, always saved!” (BTW: I’m parodying a much more sophisticated theology for the sake of argument, that is, to show the anti-Catholic bigots what it feels like to have your beliefs caricatured instead of rightly represented, as so often happens in Protestant circles with Catholic beliefs.)

    Blessed Lent and Happy Easter to all!

  4. Steel Fan:
    Having access to a station with ND, indeed!!
    I pay enough for crud ( and–excuse me–Crap) on Cable
    ( you can only watch Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Shop so many times)
    So–it BETTER be accessible to ND fans—-

    As for EWTN—Father Mitch said the day after the game “Roll Tide”
    He has to say that as EWTN is in bama country.
    EWTN?? I don’t know—
    Interesting mix–they may not wish to entertain.
    ( but they DO have money—grounds are immaculate like that of Notre Dame)

    SOMEBODY please answer me ( kindly) about those AWFUL uniforms the Mens Basketball team is wearing!!!
    The neon green is —well I reserve my opinion—for now.
    Sure the times change–but NEON green—just not good–very, very –ummm– poor taste—( and other things)

    Now to Ron Burgundy –folks he is ATTEMPTING to make fun OF Notre Dame.
    Ron—if that is so–get a life–go love your wife.
    Honestly—there is a nice chapel in Irondale you can confess in and then move on. It’s almost Holy Week—please stay off the ND site–and do a good deed by helping those less fortunate than yourself instead of coming on here–and in so doing–you will live up to your words to Notre Dame–“stay classy”–

    now about those basketball uniforms?????? I’m disturbed —anyone? anyone?

  5. Until EWTN can come up with around $20 million, ND football will always appear on some less than morally perfect cable or TV station. There are few if any saints anywhere in corporate America, and that includes the multi-billion dollar media conglomerates. Just ask the new Holy Father what he thinks of executive elites.

    Given that, ND needs to work out the best deal for ND. If that’s with NBC, then so be it. We’ll all do some “Mea Culpas” and enjoy knowing that every ND home game will be televised for sure nationally. If it’s with some other media monster, that’s OK too so long as we can continue to enjoy national access to ND football. If ND wants to start its own station, I’m all for it but we all better have access to it.

    I agree with ND Southy and irisheye62. We need to set an example for the trolls and not give the likes of Ron Burgundy a chance to come on here and incite and chastise us.

  6. Because ND is a independent in football, and we recuit nationally, properly
    marketing our product national scale is paramount to our future success.

    This means we need to showcase our program in as many households as possible, preferably during the prime time hours.(And hopefully, at no additional cost to the viewer)

    This requires a home TV Network willing to broadcast some games at 7:30 & 8:00pm on Saturday nights. (NBC had 2 prime time telecasts last season with games against Michigan, and Miami)

    Continuing to win while scheduling top tier competition enabled us to play in prime time Satuday night games agianst Michigan State, Oklahoma, Boston College, and USC, which were carried by ABC.

    Seems to me this formula of winning, scheduling, and securing prime time, Saturday night broadcasts, went a long way to a top 5 recruiting class this year.

  7. Oops type error
    “I will say -that ND fans–as men ( and women) shoudl agree to disagree withOUT the tones of hostility. ( NOT WITH the tones of hostility!) sorry–hopefully we get the point. I don’t mean to lecture. I just love Our Lady’s University all the more this past year–( alum of 92) and have been there more this year than most. We are so blessed to be connected to a University such as this–there are few–if any –that can compare to the Culture of Notre Dame. ( Let us disagree WITHOUT hostility so that ND will not be tainted by “visitor observation.” We are BETTER than that. GO IRISH)
    now -again–about those men’s basketball uniforms??? ???? disturbing—very disturbing—LOL

  8. I don’t like it when Notre Dame fans bash one another.
    I don’t like it at all.
    It doesn’t look good.

    As for others from outside of ND fans, alum, subway alumni, well—the bickering isn’t what ND is about. All one needs to do is walk through the campus, observe some classrooms, call a Professor in Advance and it can be arranged and then see the demeanor of the students in between classes and the intensity at mid-terms exams and when final projects are done.
    Our Lady’s grotto, The Chimes, The log cabin, the lakes–the dome seen in the fog—everything Mary has said points to Jesus. While I definitely do NOT walk on water–and could never come close–I will say –that ND fans –as men ( and women) should agree to disagree with the tones of hostility. NOTRE DAME IS BETTER THAN THAT! ( I live in a town clad with red and gray and an easy football schedule for 70% plus of its season and they argue like this in the Sunday paper nearly every week. Notre Dame is ND because we don’t do these things. ( not perfect–but our goals and love of team is at a higher standard) Agree to disagree–and I do disagree with some –but the hostility has to stop. GO IRISH. ( BTW, another thing that has to stop are the AWFUL MENS BASKETBALL UNIFORMS! really?? anyone-Love ND–but these uniforms?/ Oh my!!) Gentlemen–we are Notre Dame!!!

  9. There should be a network(many) willing to take the Irish football package at a significant amount more then the paltry sum of $15m.
    Is the $15m shared with the visiting team?
    A great plus for us on the east coast, (EST) would be an earlier start then the 3:30pm present start. It seems as though it’s such a odd-ball hour with other games being on, and the end being well into dinner time or Sat. night revelry.
    However it shakes out I have the ultimate respect and tip of the hat to AD Jack Swarbrick.

  10. Several flaws in this article. From a factual standpoint, conferences don’t have the ability to sign a deal that includes away games, because those away games are the other school’s home games, which has the rights to those games. If you’re playing an SEC team on the road, for example, then CBS (or ESPN) has the rights to that game no matter what deal you sign.

    Swarbrick has already been asked about the Longhorn-channel model and has said that it doesn’t make sense for ND. For that model to have sense, you need a lot of people in a particular geographic for the cable carriers to pick up that channel. While ND has a large national following, they don’t have enough in most geographic areas (aside from Chicago and northern Indiana) to get cable companies across the country to carry the channel. The model doesn’t work for ND.

    While it’s possible that ND and NBC could split up, with ND’s recent success, it would be highly unlikely that NBC will let ND go.

    1. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good cat fight. Besides you are going to need to use some bigger words and throw a few personal insults in if you really want to get your point across.

  11. Wow, what a bunch of BS on here. I hope none of these so called “trolls” as some of you call them get on here and see this nonsense. It makes us all look like a bunch of idiots. I thought this was a ND football site that we could get on and have some fun.

    How many days until Temple??

  12. Whoops haha

    ….games and they usually get picked up by espn for away games. This keeps me watching my irish play every saturday and i can live with that regardless of the second rate production. Afterall I’m not tuning in to her doug flutie’s expert analysis haha. Anyways hope all of you enjoy your easter holiday and your families! Peace


  13. Well…glad to see i didn’t miss any football talk while i was gone!

    As others have stated NBC needs to upgrade their broadcast. It really is pathetic. I do enjoy the fact ND is the only college football on NBC however. Guarantees they will be on during home

  14. Wasn’t NBC affiliated with that show “The Teletubbies”?
    You remember… the one where Tinky Winky came out of the closet to inform all the little kiddies that he was really gay?

    Or how about the confusing mess of Pee Wee’s “Play” house? (The sick freak!)

    Of course, neither of those programs can hold a stick to the misery that NBC forced ND fans to endure for years with the former broadcasting team of Tom Hammonds and Pat Haden! YIKES!

    Those were the days! I recall watching the games on NBC with the sound muted, and listing the the Play-by-Play on radio.

    Freedom of speech… Freedom of expression… Freedom of choice!



    NBC the perfect “corporate values partner” who endorse unborn childern being murdered every 23 seconds in this country! A mere 212 million unborn childern terminated in 2012 documented by PlanParentHood!

  16. Kudos Rob,

    Outstanding immorality definition, salvation does indeed matter. Especially when we know, we are definitely accepting money from the devil’s childern.

    Happy Easter to you and your family!

  17. Ah…yes, back to my good friend duranko, “the truth will set you free” (sic) “It’s not what real Notre Dame men do.” What unmitigated gall and fallacious nonsense on your part.

    I remember vividly your grand introduction to this site at the expense of one our star players. Your personal rant on mormonism under the cover of BYU was clearly an obvious unmistakable intent and target. Why heretics were everywhere!

    So enlighten me with your usual vainglorious hypocrisy my resident overlordship; which false piety is your next victim? I’m confident our international students would be waiting in line to hear your next exclusive religious diatribe. You are indeed a people person are you not?

    I’m sure you want to continue parsing the word “closer” with your evil-minded excogitating exactitudes. I remain the same, bring-it!

  18. First, let me move the previous questions:

    You stated that “there are more viable options for ND”

    Simply for the sake of the board you ought list those”more viable options
    for ND” and support your contention that they are “more viable”

    Second, in the same post you indicated that some of those options are “indeed (sic) closer to ND values.” Again, for the sake of the board, it would be salutary to have your facts on how those other options are
    “indeed closer to ND values.”

    1. Duranko,

      Verbal water boarding won’t improve your diagnostic skills either; is this all you have in your armamentarium for the “sake” of the board?

      1. It is not a Notre Dame value
        It is not representative of Notre Dame’s values

        to post some “theory” and not back it up.”It’s not what real Notre Dame men do.

      2. Suuuure…………..your the man duranko. All pure facts. Absolutist is definitely your middle name.

        Well, time for a 2 hour movie,
        I’ll be back without fail. Go ahead and write your vademecum.

    1. Ron,

      I’m confused. Aren’t you a Bama fan? I could’ve sworn that in the lead up to the NC game you were on here trolling with anti-ND remarks.

      Have I confused you with someone else? If so, I apologize. If not, then I’m glad to see that you’re not continuing with banal anti-ND tirades.


  19. Guys! Guys! How do you expect us less intellects to understand a word of your bickering with those expensive words you’re using. Dudes, I only have a high school education, Please get back down to my level so I can follow this bashing of each other without pulling out my dictionary. Now, bash on!!!!

  20. So you want to twist my arm for rebuking your questions? What was your 1st clue duranko? Or should I say your Eminence? Sorry for the intellectual discomfort you deserve. I’ve already been exposed to your exclusive self-gloatation diatribes multiple times. Clearly and surly, you seem quite compelled to play proctor in your procrustean paranoia.

    Your neophobia is is simply is not amazing, it demonstrates just how deep rooted your authoritarianism really is. So, if you don’t grasp or don’t have an immediate grasp of the obvious…rest assurded, I could careless about your infantile-grandstanding-litmus-test.

    Any other injudicious questions you would like to ask me Professor? Albeit, don’t count on me acquiescing to your patented absurdities.

  21. okay, you’re weary, and that is your excuse,not mine.
    So, I’ll be delicate, after all it is Lent.

    First, your answer is non-responsive to the question posed. My own choice, which you don’t need to follow is not to aver something without
    providing at least some threshold level of backup, and then, if challenged
    on either the initial statement or backup, to respond, in good faith, with more data to the challenge.

    Second, you made a mistake either in judgment or word usage. you ask “….really.,…you missed my earlier posts…? Actually I elected
    not to read them, so I did not miss them.

    Third, you make some conceptual leap, of Knievelesque proportions to
    averring “your love for NBC.”d BAsed, precisely, on what?

    As far as your desire to be taken to the woodshed, those sort of fantasies
    are best indulged by a spouse within the confines of one’s one residence.

  22. well jc you’re up. You indicated that there are “more viable options for ND that are indeed closer to ND values.”

    Your first homework assignment is to document which networks, and how, are “more viable” You said, now justify it.

    Your second assignment, but only after the first is concluded, is to demonstrate which options “are indeed closer to ND values.”

    You’re up!

    1. First of all, I’ve been up since 5 am. Friday’s are my paper work days for your information! Not that I need an excuse for you.

      Really, professor, you missed my earlier posts? How long have you been up?

      1st: So tell me, cleary, why your not a fan of Regis Philbin as a viable option with his new endeavor?

      2nd: An exclusive ND network like Texas, without question, would be the ultimate for expounding ND values.

      3rd: Surely, not yearning to be guilty of having the same latitude as you, howbeit, please explain your love for NBC?

      So have at it Professor, take me to the woodshed!

    2. Duranko,

      I would think that Fox would give a better production value than NBC. Look at what they do for Pro-football. Fox also has the rights to the Big 12 and I have watched those games this year and they weren’t great, but weren’t bad either. ESPN would salivate at getting the Irish. If I am Swarbrick a 14 mil contract isn’t getting me in the door. Everytime ND plays a team with another network contract they are on in prime time. Start leveraging and get some cash. If NBC wants the Irish they need to pay up!

      1. Jack –you are smooth. YOu are good!! I like it–I like it. Personally I wish the Irish ( if we HAVE to ) would take on and join with the Big 12 —that conference with Texas, Texas Tech, the two in Kansas and Oklahoma, Iowa State Baylor( TCU? –r they there) would be nice for ND–if Huskers can come East to play Big 10–Irish can go West to the Central Plains to be Big 12–and probably get leverage for Boise and a few others to join –and MAYBE get the Aggies to leave SEC– country ( which I don’t get why they went there in the first place) anyone?? anyone/? I know this is digressing formt he original headline of this article–just thinking aloud as Big “10” country is knocking on the door of North Carolina and ACC –screwing up Irish–and I wish big 10 would get a big coutner challenge from such things as I mentioned above. Jack–you are a SMOOTH business man!! Good for you. do you want a job at ND?

  23. NBC is no more anti or pro than any other network. This is about $$$. If Notre Dame can obtain a better deal elsewhere, let Swabrick put it up for bids. This can only be good for Notre Dame.

    1. Steel Fan Rob–

      As usual–you are RIGHT on.
      We DO need to recall that this is the Easter Season Coming to our hearts soon. Universal Redeemer, Universal Church founded by Jesus–and a fine University named for HIS mother which will do the right thing for the business aspect of ND football. ( As for NBC being pro this or that –I don’t think about ANY of that when I’m watching Notre Dame or any other team come game time.) Truth be told, there is immorality in every major network–if ND (or anybody else) can benefit from being a part of the major network for home games and what not, so be it. The ND connection to NBC being immoral and all is interesting. Yes, there is brokeness as human beings aka Original Sin. As for NBC home games, the game is the game and if another show which is objectionable to some comes on AFTER the game -change the channel. Doesn’t mean we agree with NBC ( or others) on all –but I SURELY agree with ND being saavy, tending to business and the fact that other schools are green with envy due to the suave business of Notre Dame football makes me applaud. ND will do what is best for ND in terms of business. Meanwhile, i like the Longhorns, maybe they could be a role model for the Irish IF ND has its own broadcasting. Why not? Cutting edge Irish will do what it has to do with all of the changes in NCAA sports! Peace to you Steel Fan. You are spot on–and A ok. Happy Easter (soon) Christ is Risen!

  24. “I am definitely not interested in rewriting the Bible to accomodate NBC”

    What a ridiculous statement. It’s 2013. Get real.

      1. I have a serious question. Before Christianity was ever created, were the people then immoral? How about before Judaism, when people believed in the Gods of Olympus? Or even further back when people worshiped the sun and the moon? Were they all immoral as well?

      2. Dear Bro. Colin,

        Immorality is a fundamental part of our brokenness as human beings, what Christians would call Original Sin. It’s not unique to any one time, group, race, class, or belief. It’s universal, which is why we needed a universal redeemer (although there is no such thing as universal redemption!)and a universal church to carry on the work of healing our brokenness.

        May we all recall that this is the Easter Season, when all Christians, regardless of creed, recall the sacrifice that was made “for us and for our sins” by our Lord Jesus. May this be a season of spritiual reflection and growth for us all!

        Happy Easter!

  25. NBC is now the 5th ranked television network in the nation. Not to mention, they are not headed in the right direction with their program ratings. ND would be their only bright spot in the whole network.

    Fact of the matter, NBC to their own demise has turned into Pro-gay, Pro-gay marriage, Pro-contraception, Pro-abortion and Pro-atheist supporters just to mention a few social issues.

    Further, as I mention earlier, there are more viable options for ND that are indeed closer to ND values. I am definitely not interested in rewriting the Bible to accomodate NBC.

    1. get off of fox nuts. this site’s about sport’s not politics. nbc is part of the big three plus fox. i don’t know the 4th one you believe they’re under but it’s still more than big 10 or any other pathetic network’s viewership regardless of the contract. ND’s national exposure is worth more than a couple more mill in a network no one sees. The contract is unique and they should keep it.

    2. JC – I echo the “trashy post” sentiment. FOX TV is Faux TV. (that’s “false TV” to uncultured English-only speakers) ND is bigger than that. NBC has hit tough times. It happens. ND should remember the DacieWontinghamWeis-disaster days and retain NBC out of gratitude. When talking that outrageous money, numbers are secondary to meaning.

      1. Hurls,

        As far as sports TV is concerned Fox blows NBC out of the water. NBC sports sucks, if ND was on Fox they would have all kind of features for the University, plus they would have paid top dollar. I don’t care about politics, but Fox is better sports programing by far.

  26. It would seem that the Irish should get a heck of a lot more than, say, Wake Forest or Duke for home football games. While I don’t advocate selling out to the highest bidder, NBC has to recognize that the rights to Notre Dame football deserves a significant premium. 14 million viewers dwarfs whatever the number was for the Duke/NC State game last year. I trust the University will be fair, both to NBC and to itself.

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