ESPN’s College GameDay has been to a lot of different venues over the years, but now they’re heading overseas for the first time. ESPN announced Saturday that the pre-game show will be heading to Dublin, Ireland next year for the Aug. 29, 2020 game there between Notre Dame and Navy. Here’s more from that release:
College GameDay Built by The Home Depot is bringing its iconic pregame show to Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, kicking off a new college football season and marking the first time in history the traveling road show will originate from outside the United States. The 11-time Emmy Award winning pregame show, in cooperation with Aer Lingus, the flag carrier of Ireland, and Tourism Ireland, will set the scene for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Notre Dame and Navy at Aviva Stadium. College GameDay is expected to begin at 11 a.m. ET/4 p.m. GMT and the game will kick off at 2 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT. Both will air on ESPN.
“College GameDay has built its legacy travelling from city to city, campus to campus showcasing the unmatched passion of college football fans and the pageantry surrounding the game,” said ESPN Senior Vice President of Production Lee Fitting. “The Notre Dame-Navy rivalry serves as the perfect backdrop for College GameDay’s inaugural international appearance. We look forward to giving the great fans of Ireland and the thousands of Americans traveling to Dublin an unforgettable experience.”
And here’s the on-air announcement:
That will mark GameDay‘s 385th road show overall, and it makes sense that Notre Dame’s involved in their first-ever overseas one; Notre Dame hosted the first-ever live-on-campus GameDay broadcast back in 1993, and many (including Lee Corso) have attributed the decision to go on the road to GameDay‘s long-running success. (The show began in 1987, but it was filmed in studio until 1993.) The Irish have also been a prominent GameDay presence over the years, hosting it nine times and having it originate from their game sites 30 times.
It also makes some sense for GameDay to go to this game. Week 0 is getting more and more prominent all the time (as the Miami-Florida ratings this year show), and GameDay unusually went on the road for it this year (albeit to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, which created issues over the sign bans there; the park eventually relented to allow some signs), and Notre Dame-Navy should be one of the Week 0 highlights in 2020. And partnerships with Aer Lingus and Tourism Ireland should help minimize the not-insignificant costs and logistical hurdles associated with taking a broadcast overseas. And having GameDay on the road in Week 0 helps pump up the importance of that game, which also benefits ESPN as the broadcaster of that game. (And a strong Week 0 matchup like this can really benefit its broadcaster, as there’s less competition from other games than you’d get in-season.)
It remains to be seen if GameDay is going to be on the road in Week 0 each year going forward. It could be that 2018 and 2019 just presented particular opportunities, with the 2018 game being near ESPN parent Disney’s theme parks and with the 2019 game being this unique game in Ireland. Maybe 2020 will see a return to the usual standard of GameDay going on the road beginning in Week 1. But there was certainly plenty of interest in Week 0 GameDay this year, and there likely will be again in 2020. And as long as there’s a Week 0 matchup that’s worth their time (and there probably will be for the near future, given how those games have grown in importance recently), we may see still more Week 0 GameDay going forward.