Who kills the magic at Notre
Dame? Often times it's the very network that supports it (and Dick Ebersol
has been a committed Note Dame supporter.) NBC has been a good partner, but it is time ND started demanding more from NBC. Certainly losing doesn't help, but Notre
Dame is about the game day experience and NBC has systematically helped kill the golden goose by focusing on inventory.
What's inventory? It's the amount of spots a network has to sell per show. And here's where the deal makers have hurt both Notre
Dame and themselves with short term inventory creation prioritized over product degradation. It's simple, they're not viewing football from a product perspective first and hurting the experience.
I read stories about the Notre
Dame/NBC deal and Touchdown Jesus wants to cry
Here's how Tom Coyne
(a very respected and well liked ND writer) couched his recent AP article: "NBC renewed its television contract with Notre Dame football through the 2015 season on Thursday despite the Fighting Irish last year drawing their lowest ratings since the network began broadcasting their games in 1991."
Okay, I like Tom almost as much as Lou Somogyi
at Blue and Gold and Mike Frank of Irish Eyes, but that's just a bullshit opening line.
Last year was a Three Wood created Chauncey nightmare
which happens when you don't have one senior offensive lineman (and a host of other lazy recruiting reverberations) on the team. NBC didn't renew "despite" last year, it renewed "because" it knew last year was a anomaly of circumstances we will never see again. They renewed because it's Notre
Dame and there are few franchises left for networks to secure and because over the past two years Notre
Dame has brought in two incredible recruiting classes and there's no doubt Notre
Dame will be contending by next year.
So let's drop this notion of NBC doing ND any favors. Fox would have picked up this contract in a heartbeat.
NBC has to understand what makes a product attractive to begin with... and I'll make this simple.. it's not adding extra time during commercial breaks or adding more breaks.
Doing so kills the interest at home games (though it revs up bar sales) and decimates the hard to come by home field advantage in South Bend.
In short, the entire methodology is short-sighted and self-defeating. I like Ad guys. I love Ad guys. They keep television free for the masses. But you can't let Ad guys control the product. It's letting the Fox control the hens. Ad guys (and gals) will increase inventory to the greatest extent they can, because that increases overall upfront revenue.
But here's where the story comes to a grinding halt. Those extended TV timeouts take a toll on viewers at home and on the energy of viewers in the stadium. If the stadium magic dies, the team loses an ally. If the team loses an ally, they lose an advantage. If the team loses an advantage, they lose more games. And EVERYONE who's been to a ND game knows how much those constant interruptions suck the wind out of games. Sure, late game heroics can restoke
the magic fires, but if we didn't let the flames die to begin we wouldn't have to restoke those fires.
And where's where this comes back to roost. If the experience is less exciting and constantly interrupted and the team suffers because of it, ratings are less. It's worse in a down year, but true in an up year as well.
So if ratings are less, what does NBC do?
There's less money per minute for everyone, which keeps the pressure on to create more inventory. It's this kind of down the toilet thinking that has permeated ND negotiations at all levels. What Notre
Dame needs to do is keep the product strong and interesting and the money will be there.
NBC, for it's own good, should cut down on TV timeouts and lesson inventory for the overall health of its product and to maximize ultimate revenues.
As Ted Mandell
wrote in the Indy Star years ago, "Frankly, they're bored. The result of too much momentum interruptus. With the ebb and flow of the game destroyed by crass commercialism, the coaches, players, and fans are now glassy-eyed slaves to the predictable onslaught of TV timeouts. TV timeouts, the curse of college football. A pseudo-ref steps onto the field and sticks up his foamy orange right arm like a runway cop at the airport. The game stops. "
NBC needs to recognize the game experience is everything and you can make money by building up the experience, not parceling it out until the magic is gone. Perhaps the solution is finding one sponsor for all games, like NBC did with Nightly News broadcasts.
Ultimately, it's the magic, whatever that is, that will bring in viewers and fans and eventually the money.