Notre Dame’s 1991 marriage with NBC-TV to cover all of its home football games was supposedly for better or worse, especially during some lean times that included four losing seasons by the Fighting Irish since 1999 and a couple of other .500 campaigns.
Notre Dame's marriage with NBC for football home games has been extended through 2025.
Right now, though, it’s definitely for the better, especially on the heels of a 12-0 Fighting Irish regular season and a bid to the BCS Championship. For the sixth time since their original union, Notre Dame and NBC announced April 18 that they have agreed to work together through at least the 2025 football season.
“It’s pretty consistent with the marketplace right now,” said Notre Dame vice president/director of athletics Jack Swarbrick of the long-term renewal that in the past had just been five-year deals. “Most of these deals [now] are 12, 13, 14 years. Our broadcast partner wanted to be in that same ballpark and I understand that … given the level of investment. We’re interested in a long-term equity relationship. It made sense.”
The original deal in 1991 included uniform starting times and no night games. Times change, and the new language in the agreement includes as many as five night games over a two-year period. In addition to Notre Dame’s “Shamrock Series” games in off-site games that began in 2009 — including Arizona State in Arlington, Texas, this year — Notre Dame started playing night games at home in 2011 (USC) and 2012 (Michigan), a first since 1990.
“Under the old agreement, our commitment is two a year,” said Swarbrick of the night games, including the Shamrock Series outings. “This allows us to explore another one every other year. So instead of four in two years, we’re going to explore five in two years.”
There will be only one night game in Notre Dame Stadium in 2013, which is still to be announced. NBC’s schedule of Notre Dame home games for the coming season features Temple (Aug. 31), Michigan State (Sept. 21), Oklahoma (Sept. 28), Arizona State in Dallas (Oct. 5), USC (Oct. 19), Navy (Nov. 2) and BYU (Nov. 23).
The future also could have a Notre Dame regular-season game on NBC Sports Network (which reaches 80 million homes). It will telecast this weekend’s Blue-Gold Game. Other shows NBC Sports Network has produced include specials on the Fighting Irish men's lacrosse, women’s soccer, hockey and both basketball teams, the “Strong of Heart” series, the “Sweet Home Chicago” for football prior to last year’s Miami game in The Windy City, and a spring football special that will air on noon this Saturday.
“That’s a right that already existed in the original agreement,” said Swarbrick of the cable outlet. “We’re interested in helping build the NBC Sports Network. It’s a really great partner for us as you can see by the number of shows we’ve distributed through it in the past year, shows we’ve been responsible for creating."
“Coming off one of Notre Dame’s best and most dramatic seasons in decades, we could not be more proud to extend this historic partnership, which continues to be one of the most innovative in sports-media history,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group. “We are particularly excited that this extension offers enhanced rights that allow us to bring Notre Dame Football to fans on more platforms than ever before.”
As it has since 2009, NBC Sports Digital will continue to live stream Fighting Irish home games for the web, mobile and tablets.
To date, some 6,300 Notre Dame undergraduate students have received nearly $80 million in aid from revenue generated through the NBC contract. The University also has committed revenue from NBC to endow doctoral fellowships in its Graduate School and MBA scholarships in its Mendoza College of Business.
In addition to televising games, NBC has collaborated with Notre Dame on an award-winning series of two-minute halftime messages featuring University faculty and student research.
“We look forward to collaborating on additional projects and distribution strategies in seasons to come,” Swarbrick said.