Nov 7, 2020; Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; A general view of the ESPN College Gameday set in Notre Dame Stadium before the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Clemson Tigers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

How much will it take to prevent Notre Dame from joining a conference? A whole lot more than they’re making now, that’s for sure.

Per Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, the Fighting Irish are seeking at least $75 million per year on their next media rights deal to remain independent. That would be a vast raise from what they’re currently receiving from NBC, a backloaded deal that averaged $15 million over the life of the ten-year contract but is currently paying $22 million.

Additionally, Dodd reports that if NBC were to bow to Notre Dame’s wishes, it would need to acquire the rights to another conference, with both the Big Ten and Big 12 as options, to pair with Notre Dame games.

Notre Dame would remain independent if it can earn at least $75 million annually in media rights revenue from current broadcast partner NBC, sources told CBS Sports. The Fighting Irish’s deal with the network is set to expire in 2025.

For NBC to feel comfortable raising Notre Dame’s valuation to such a level, it is seeking “shoulder programming” (in this case, games played before and/or after Notre Dame’s contests) from a Power Five conference to enhance its college football coverage.

When such a move had been speculated previously, the Big Ten was the conference mentioned most often as a target. However, the Big 12 has emerged as a strong option to fill NBC’s shoulder programming needs.

$75 million per year would put Notre Dame in the same ballpark as both the Big Ten and the SEC. Earlier this year, a research firm projected both conferences bringing in $75 million in rights fees in 2025, though that report was released prior to the Big Ten’s additions of UCLA and USC. That data gives the $75 million number a bit more context, and seems like a reasonable goal for Notre Dame.

As for whether or not NBC will pay up, it won’t require a commitment to just Notre Dame – they’ll also have to nab either a Big Ten or Big 12 package. Retaining the Irish and adding another conference would be a tremendous financial investment, and may be a step too far for a network that has largely stayed clear of the college football bidding wars.

[CBS Sports]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.