NBC is paying a reported $350 million annually for the Big Ten’s broadcast rights, which includes primetime football on Saturday nights. While NBC anticipates a major ratings boost from its new partnership, expectations should be tempered amid what looks to be a weak primetime slate, at least initially according to veteran college football reporter Brett McMurphy.
Big Ten’s NBC September schedule, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ, includes:
West Virginia at Penn State, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Charlotte at Maryland, Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
Syracuse at Purdue, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. ET
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) May 30, 2023
Not exactly a murderer’s row. Fans on Twitter made plenty of jokes at NBC’s expense, mocking the broadcast behemoth for setting aside a primetime slot for Maryland, a school not known for its football prowess (at least recently), to play AAC newcomer Charlotte on national television.
A ratings bonanza…
— Matthew Strickland ?? (@strickland) May 30, 2023
Man I can't wait for Charlotte at Maryland and Syracuse at Purdue sign me up
— Samsmith (@Samsmit88258255) May 30, 2023
What a way to kickoff the B1G Saturday night slate for NBC.
-said no one ever.
— Jamil (JJ) (@huskers2k23) May 30, 2023
Was Bowling Green at Northwestern not available?
— Matt H (@chazweeks44) May 30, 2023
Charlotte v. Maryland is going to draw 10s of viewers.
— Mike Bauhof (@MikeBauhof) May 30, 2023
They paid 350 million for this??
— ? (@UA_MIS_2015) May 30, 2023
To be fair, NBC’s primetime options for Week 2 were extremely slim pickings, with alternatives including Delaware at Penn State, Eastern Michigan at Minnesota, Richmond at Michigan State, Temple at Rutgers, UNLV at Michigan, UTEP at Northwestern and Youngstown State at Ohio State. NBC still has plenty of compelling matchups in its back pocket, though, unfortunately, we won’t see them until the conference schedule ramps up, probably in late September or early October.
For the Big Ten, this marks the end of a 40-year partnership with ESPN, with the sides unable to negotiate a new deal. The Big Ten will also air games on Fox and CBS, though the Saturday primetime window belongs to NBC.