Notre Dame football had fortuitous timing with its 12-1 season, if their new TV deal is any suggestion.
After their last contract extension in the summer of 2008 was a mere four-year deal following a 3-9 season under Charlie Weis, the network and the program agreed to a huge, 10-year extension that will keep all of the Fighting Irish home football games nationally televised through 2025. The last agreement came when the Notre Dame brand was considered to be fading. Well, now that the program is clearly back in business as a football powerhouse, NBC made a move to keep one of their biggest sports properties.
"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," NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said in a press release. "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."
What he means by "more platforms" is that Notre Dame home games may be making a move to cable for the first time ever in the coming years. Once the new extension kicks in after the 2015 football season, NBC can move "select games" to NBC Sports Network. I'd be shocked if all, or even a majority, of the team's games moved to cable, but probably two out of the seven (six home, one neutral site) games NBC gets each year seem likely destined for NBCSN. The cable channel currently only has rights to the team's spring game and select non-FCS games from the Ivy League and CAA.
Even though NBC itself doesn't air any other college football besides Notre Dame and the annual Grambling-Southern game, the migration of sporting events to cable made this seem like an inevitability. The ability to potentially get new subscribers -- the customers who want to see Notre Dame are demanding even when the team is bad -- and raise cable subscription fees to NBC Sports Network is perhaps worth as much these days as simply making money off of ad sales for a game on NBC. Either way, Notre Dame games will remain a prized piece of the NBC Sports Group until at least the mid-'20s.