Caitlin Clark Iowa Iowa’s Caitlin Clark takes a shot as time winds down against Nebraska Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

No streaming service has been built up by live sports quite like Peacock. NBC Universal has done everything they can to flood subscribers to their digital streaming platform and live sports is at the center of the strategy, much to the chagrin of sports fans who are dismayed by yet another paywall being thrown in the way of their sports fandom.

It began with NBC moving many high-profile English Premier League soccer games to Peacock. Odds are when any of the ‘Big Six’ clubs play, say Manchester United-Liverpool or Chelsea-Arsenal, it’s likely to be a game that is exclusive to Peacock. Given the number of popular teams that see their games on the streaming service, it is a must for EPL fans to have in addition to the games that air on linear television.

In the fall, Peacock got a package of Big Ten college football games, including most notably, games including Ohio State and Michigan – forcing those huge, hardcore fanbases to pony up for a subscription to watch all their team’s games.

Most notably, Peacock aired the first streaming-exclusive NFL playoff game in the Wild Card round between the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. That telecast drew an estimated 2.8 million new subscribers for the platform that helped recoup some of the $110 million pricetag.

And now it’s the turn of Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Clark needs just 8 points on Thursday night against Michigan to set the new all-time NCAA women’s basketball scoring record. While in years past a monumental achievement like that would have been broadcast to the masses, now it’s tucked away as a streaming exclusive. The Iowa sharpshooter has never scored less than 8 points in a game in her entire Iowa Hawkeye career (her career low of 8 points came on January 9th, 2021 at Northwestern) so it would take a calamitous event of epic proportions for her to not set the record during the game.

But this game is just one of seven Iowa women’s basketball games on Peacock this year. If that seems like a huge number, know that it is not an accident. In a January column at Sportico, NBC Sports President Jon Miller basically said that it’s all part of the plan for the platform.

Asked to quantify what Clark has meant for the platform, particularly as it looks to hold onto sports fans who came aboard for the exclusive NFL playoff game aired earlier this month, Jon Miller, the NBC sports president for acquisitions and partnerships, pointed to the effect Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Patrick Mahomes have had for their respective properties. “Stars sell,” he said.

While Clark’s record chase won’t eclipse the viewership for the NFL playoff game, it still represents another opportunity for Peacock to reach new eyeballs and earn new sign-ups. While Clark’s incredible accomplishment could be an opportunity to further grow the sport to the widest audience possible, it’s being used as yet another carrot for Peacock and to make NBC’s Big Ten investment worthwhile. It isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last major sporting event parked behind a streaming paywall.