Notre Dame would remain independent if it could earn at least $75 million a year in media rights revenue from current broadcast partner NBC, sources told CBS Sports. The Fighting Irish’s deal with the network is due to expire in 2025.
For NBC to feel comfortable elevating Notre Dame’s valuation to such a high, it is seeking “shoulder programming” from a Power Five conference to enhance its coverage of college football.
When such a move had been speculated before, the Big Ten was the conference mentioned most often as a target. However, the Big 12 emerged as a solid option to meet NBC’s shoulder programming needs.
The Big Ten is expected to announce a new billion-dollar media rights deal, possibly as early as this month, with Fox as the lead partner. It is believed to be looking for 2-3 other partners to carry its programming with NBC among the bidders.
Outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby hadn’t heard anything specific about NBC targeting the Big 12 for additional programming, but said such a move “made sense.” The Big 12 may be one of the few leagues with inventory, as its media rights deal also expires in 2025.
Brett Yormark replaces Bowlsby as Big 12 commissioner on August 1. At a press conference during the Big 12 Media Days last week, Yormark said the conference was “open for business.”
Notre Dame’s name returned in the conference realignment amid USC and UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten last month. Due to the value of the next Big Ten deal, estimated at between $80 million and $100 million per year for each member institution, Notre Dame was thought to have a generational decision to make about whether it should remain independent.
NBC’s negotiations are expected to span the next 2-3 weeks, a source says. The network has been the rights holder for Notre Dame’s home football games since 1991. The current deal averages $15 million per year, but Notre Dame earns $22 million per year due to the deferred nature of the contract.