I'm sure that even after simply reading the title of this article, Irish fans are already reading with furrowed brows. Despite my, uh, lack of enthusiasm towards Notre dame athletics, I do have a great deal of respect for the fans. The true fans, that is.
With one of the largest fanbases in America, it's no surprise that the Fighting Irish have a television deal with NBC, who agrees to televise most Notre Dame football games.
According to the university, this television deal has raised over $26 million for athletic scholarships since the network first began televising Notre Dame games in 1991. However, with only two bowl game victories in the past 12 seasons, both of them coming in unimpressive bowls against unranked teams, Notre Dame football is far from being the powerhouse that it was in previous decades.
Recent years have seen a drastic decrease in Notre Dame's win total, as well as television ratings. In fact, the Week 6 contest between Notre Dame and Air Force drew the lowest viewer rating in Notre Dame history, with only 1.5 million viewers.
NBC will especially regret signing their five-year deal if Notre Dame continues to perform at a mediocre level. The network should certainly consider moving some Notre Dame games to the newly re-branded NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus, in order to televise more appealing games.
Another option that Notre Dame should consider is to move their games to a "Notre Dame Network." This could certainly benefit both sides of the deal. Although a later starting time equals more television viewers, Notre Dame fervently tries to schedule afternoon or late morning games. According to Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins, "...it's very disruptive for our students, for the academic life at the university to have a game at night." If you say so, chief. That just means the post-game party starts a bit earlier!
The development of a "Notre Dame Network" would not only allow more flexibility with Notre Dame's schedule, but would also allow them to air more promotional programming and other sports to devoted Irish fans.
Perhaps, it's time for the college to begin rethinking its business philosophies and find a way to regain its long last followers and quit harming NBC's viewer ratings.