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Notre Dame’s home football opener in 2021 will offer a potential glimpse into the future.
The Fighting Irish’s game against Toledo on Sept. 11 will broadcast exclusively on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service. It will not be televised on traditional NBC.
In an era of college athletics where streaming services will factor significantly into upcoming rights deals and potential realignment moves, the exclusive streaming broadcast is a potential early peek into how streaming will impact college sports.
“We have always strived for innovation in the media space [and] our partnership with NBC and Peacock only solidifies that mission,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said. “Bringing Notre Dame football to Peacock is just the next step in the evolution of our relationship.”
The game is likely a litmus test for the power of Notre Dame to deliver streams. With Notre Dame’s television rights expiring in 2025, the game could deliver empirical evidence to the power that Notre Dame football can deliver to a streaming service. Notre Dame’s deal is currently considered under market, and this could be a harbinger for how significantly that changes.
Notre Dame’s other six home games will be shown on Peacock and NBC, who has shown Notre Dame games since 1991. The NBC television deal for Notre Dame football has long been a linchpin of the school’s football independence, which will be under close examination as leagues like the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 ponder moves in the wake of the SEC’s recent acquisition of Texas and Oklahoma.
Notre Dame is coming off a recent flurry of success where it has had two undefeated regular seasons and College Football Playoff bids in the past three years under head coach Brian Kelly.
Swarbrick has made it clear that Notre Dame will be at the forefront of change in the streaming space, including having launched Fighting Irish TV this spring for Notre Dame video content.
The Irish's game against the Rockets will also mark Drew Brees’ debut as color commentator.
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