Monday, November 2, 2009

NBC, Comcast and Notre Dame football

John Ourand of Sports Business Journal wrote an excellent article on the sports entities of both NBC and Comcast that are needed to make it successful on the sports side.

(As a plug, if you are a sports fan and have any interest in business, economics, etc., SBJ is a must read along with its companion Sports Business Daily.)

John notes that Notre Dame football, currently with NBC until 2015, could have games moved to cable under the contract. Right now, NBC requests that the Irish provide eight games per season and the schedule as of late has been finding more teams from non-AQ conferences on it than in the past (San Diego St. in 2008, Nevada in 2009, Utah and Western Michigan in 2010).

Typically Notre Dame schedules the same five teams each year, arguably these are the Irish's "conference" games:

Michigan (though they are taking a two year break in a couple years so the Irish can do a home-home with Oklahoma)
Michigan St.

The Irish also regularly schedules Pittsburgh, Boston College and Stanford. In most years it leaves the Irish with five games to sprinkle about the country. They're supposed to play Big East teams on a regular basis, supposedly three per year, but I've yet to see that put into practice.

Putting the cart way before the horse, I think its entirely possible that if Versus got a chance to pick up ND football, it would get probably two games per year. Likely a one-off game vs. a non-BCS team (like WMU), plus another game where the opponent's record is less than stellar or the opponent is not well known nationally (this year's example might be UConn). I believe NBC would want to retain the neutral site "home" game each year as NBC has stated it would likely use that game as a primetime ND game every year, regardless of the stature of the opponent.



Sean OLeary said...

It depends on how good Notre Dame is I think. When ND was really good in 2005 & 2006, NBC would never, ever want to give those games away.

Anonymous said...

As an alum, I can tell you that putting the game on Versus at this point time will cause way too much backlash. It would be looked at as a step back and not be received well. It would defintiely have to be one game and against a non-AQ conference team, and it would have to be more down the line when things have settled on this deal (i.e. if/how Versus changes, no Directv disputes, subscriber numbers closer to ESPN, etc.).

Anonymous said...

This presents some interesting things to think about for Notre Dame. Right now, ND actually makes less TV money than all of the SEC and Big Ten teams under the NBC deal. That's probably acceptable for the ND leadership and alums if the trade off is that the Irish continue to always get nationwide over-the-air coverage. However, the possibility of games moving to Versus changes the dynamic quite a bit. If this were to happen, then if I were running ND (and I'll say that I have no personal bias - as a Chicagoan that's a Big Ten guy, I'm just exposed to them even more than the average American), then I would demand that the rights fess increase dramatically to where ND is on par with the Big Ten and SEC schools. That would certainly be justifiable since cable networks actually have a lot more access to cash right now than over-the-air networks.

The thing for ND is that I don't believe there are alternative options for ND for the type of the over-the-air coverage that it receives now from NBC. CBS is tied up with the SEC for a long time, while ABC has its own long-term deals with several conferences. ABC had talked to ND before, but those talks didn't go anywhere since ABC insisted on being able to regionalize ND games in the same manner as the conferences that it works with. Fox is a slight possibility, but its MLB deal stands in the way on Saturdays in the fall and the network seems to be backing off on any initiatives to show more college football. NBC is really still the best option for maximum over-the-air ND coverage, so if that relationship continues and the Comcast deal goes through, I think that ND is going to have to face the reality of having some home games on cable sooner rather than later. Financially, that might not be a bad thing for ND since, as I stated before, you can make a lot more money from cable these days than from the over-the-air networks (as the Big Ten and SEC can attest).

Art McGregor said...

"Really good" in 2005 and 2006?


Unknown said...

in which universe was ND 'really good' in 2005 and 2006.
i think after this contract expires ND may need to join a conference. there are just to many really bad games on their schedule for a network to pay out what NBC does. plus its a recruiting problem. i have to believe they lose players because so many of their games are meaningless