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Notre Dame, NBC extend TV deal

Mike Monaco | Friday, April 19, 2013

Notre Dame and NBC Sports reached an agreement on a 10-year contract extension that gives NBC the rights to televise Irish home football games from 2016 to 2025, according to press releases from the network and the University.

The announcement, which was the culmination of an 18-month negotiation process, will extend the partnership between NBC and Notre Dame to 35 years. The NBC Sports Group retains global media rights on all platforms to a minimum of seven Irish home football games each year. As was the case with the previous contract, the extension allows for occasional games to air on NBC Sports Network, which is available in 80 million homes. The Blue-Gold spring football game airs on NBC Sports Network on Saturday at 1 p.m.

NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus and University President Fr. John Jenkins made the joint announcement Thursday. Lazarus said Notre Dame’s perfect 12-0 regular season in 2012 was a point of pride for the network.

“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,” Lazarus said in a network statement.

In its seven games on NBC in 2012, the Irish averaged 4.4 million viewers and a 2.8 household rating, according to the network. Those marks were up 69 percent and 67 percent, respectively, from 2011. The average of 4.4 million viewers was the best performance by Notre Dame football on NBC since 2005.

Irish director of athletics Jack Swarbrick spoke at a press conference later Thursday and said the contract extension enables Notre Dame to play five night games over a two-year span, instead of four in the same timeframe. Two of those games would be part of the Shamrock Series, and the other three would be at Notre Dame Stadium. Swarbrick said having two night games at home will not begin this upcoming season. 

In addition to football, Swarbrick said the extension also benefits other Notre Dame teams.

“While our relationship with NBC Sports is longstanding, the more recent merger between NBC and Comcast has opened up additional avenues to expand the breadth of Notre Dame-related sports programming on NBC platforms,” Swarbrick said in a University press release. “Specifically, the evolution of the NBC Sports Network has provided opportunities for special programming featuring inside looks at our football team and several other Notre Dame sports programs and in-depth profiles on the unsung heroes of Notre Dame athletics. 

“These are examples of the growth of our partnership, and we look forward to collaborating on additional projects and distribution strategies in seasons to come.” 

Since the start of the partnership in 1991, revenues from the NBC contract have been utilized in Notre Dame’s financial aid endowment. According to the University, roughly 6,300 Notre Dame undergraduates have received approximately $80 million in aid from revenue generated through the NBC contract. 

“In addition to the national broadcast of our home football games, this longtime and valued collaboration with NBC has made a Notre Dame education possible to literally thousands of students,” Jenkins said in the University press release. “We are delighted to extend our partnership to bring Irish football to our fans, to continue to help support financial aid and to tell the Notre Dame story.”

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu