In a radio interview with radio station WSBT AM 960 out of South Bend, via the Chicago Tribune, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick stated that the University would in fact have it's own digital network in the future.
Swarbrick stated, "There will be a Notre Dame Network, but people sort of envision that in traditional terms of something dramatic and new. You’ll sort of grow into it as you produce more and more digital programming and distribute it more broadly, and we’re committed to that.
What is central to our ability to really build out of a viable network is the increased delivery of broadband video to homes. Texas is a cable platform, because they have dense geography. Ours is the inverse of that. We have fans everywhere—not a huge concentration in one cable market. And so we’re going to be really well-positioned, as technology advances here, and we’re spending our time now building our digital programming"
Notre Dame shook up the college football world back in 1991 when it signed an exclusive television contract with NBC. The deal gave NBC exclusive television rights to all Notre Dame home games. This deal irked many, including Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, who was still holding a grudge in 2008 when he said the Notre Dame would not be welcome in the Big Ten.
NBC and Notre Dame are bound by contract through the 2015 season, which will be the 25th anniversary of their union. Money from the NBC contract has been used to finance non-athletic scholarships. From 1991 through 2008, 2,400 students received more that $26 million in aid.
While Notre Dame was bashed for their alliance with NBC back in '91, others have followed suit. The Big Ten launched its own network in 2007 becoming the first conference to make such a move. The network is available in over 40 million households.
It is estimated that the Big Ten network pays each school over $26 million a year which is more than what it is estimated that Notre Dame makes a year from the NBC contract.
It was announced in January 2011 that ESPN and the Texas Longhorns will join forces on a 24-hour network, in a deal that will be worth $300 million over 20 years. Later that same week, it was announced that the Oklahoma Sooners would launch their own network in conjunction with ESPN under the same terms.
This is a no-lose situation for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame fans from coast to coast can tune in to everything from Irish baseball to lacrosse. And Notre Dame will not have to share the revenue with NBC or 11 other teams as they do in the Big Ten.
With a fanbase that reaches coast to coast and beyond, there will be no shortage of subscriptions. Notre Dame athletics has had a great run over the past few years. The women's soccer team won the national championship, the women's basketball team was in the finals. Men's hockey reached the frozen four and the men's basketball team had a great regular season. Not to mention the fencing team were champions.
Notre Dame launching its own network is a little overdue but a very welcome situation. While Notre Dame has been compared to the New York Yankees in the past, it would be wise to study the way that the Yankees have used their own network to make revenue without the burden of passing it around to smaller market teams.
When the Notre Dame network does air, most likely after the 2015 season, it will be yet another milestone in the Jack Swarbrick era.