In the latest news regarding a wild summer of conference realignment talk, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that Notre Dame has a target number — $75 million — for what it would need to generate each year in media rights revenue to remain independent in football.
NBC, Notre Dame’s broadcast partner since 1991, currently has a media rights deal with the school that earns the Fighting Irish an average of $15 million per year (though Notre Dame earns $22 million annually “due to the backloaded nature of the contract,” per Dodd).
So, how could Notre Dame’s media rights revenue make that big of a jump?
“For NBC to feel comfortable raising Notre Dame’s valuation to such a level, it is seeking ‘shoulder programming’ from a Power Five conference to enhance its college football coverage,” Dodd wrote.
The Big 12 Conference has become an option to fill those shoulder programming needs, Dodd reported, while adding the Big Ten Conference has been mentioned as an option as well.
Both Notre Dame’s contract with NBC and the Big 12’s current media rights agreement are set to expire in 2025.
It’s been a busy few weeks of conference realignment speculation since USC and UCLA announced they will leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024.
It’s believed that Notre Dame is also highly valued by the Big Ten, though joining the conference would mean the Fighting Irish must relinquish their coveted independent status in football.
Notre Dame has an agreement to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference in its other sports.
The Big 12, meanwhile, stands to have 12 members in 2025, once BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF join the conference next season, while Texas and Oklahoma depart for the SEC in 2025.
With the Pac-12 being weakened by USC and UCLA departing for the Big Ten, there have been questions surrounding the future of that conference and its 10 remaining members, including Utah — and if that future could include some of those members bolting for the Big 12, or the two conferences merging together.