CBS Sports — 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.
Everyone is going to be getting insane money when these current TV contracts get renewed. The Big Ten is going from its current $440 million annual deal to at least $1 billion. The SEC will soon get $300 million from ESPN for its weekly top game package, up from the $55 million the league currently gets from CBS. And now Notre Dame is demanding $75 million a year from NBC — the current deal is valued at an average of $15 million annually.
Why wouldn't it? Notre Dame is a brand that every conference wants and now it has the threat of hopping over to the Big Ten, where it would make that much even just receiving 1/17th of the conference's new rights deal anyway. So they can either get that check from NBC or they'll go get it somewhere else.
I do think Notre Dame ends up joining either the Big Ten or the ACC, I just don't know when that's going to be. Once the superpower conferences expand even more, they're going to eventually be playing 10-game conference schedules and it just won't make very much sense for Notre Dame to remain independent at that point. But it seems like the Irish would like to remain independent as long as NBC ponies up.
Regardless, there is no better business to be in right now than big-time college football.