Thoughts on Peacock (NBC) and the B1G

Streaming was supposed to kill cable, now I have both and it sucks.

Peacock, the streaming service owned by NBC, was already in the CFB world, but it was more like a toe in the pool, testing the waters. The NBC contract with Notre Dame lets them show one home game per season exclusively on Peacock.

This was met with collective groans from the college football community.

Washington at Michigan State is exclusively on Peacock. When the B1G media deal was announced on Aug 18th, 2022 it was also announced that eight B1G home games per year would be shown exclusively on Peacock. 

Let’s look at the situation with Peacock and B1G streaming a little closer

There are some insights to be gleaned, and some unintended consequences for teams that didn’t even sign up for this (looking at you Washington). This was made slightly worse this May when it was revealed that the media deal wasn’t finalized. There were some hangups with the NBC details of the deal.

1 – NBC was given the 2026 B1G Championship game, a game owned by FOX

  • The fix here was simple, pay FOX $40 million. In an $8+ billion deal, this is not the big deal ESPN made it out to be when they broke the story.

2 – NBC was unaware that the major brands of the B1G won’t play night games after the 1st week of November. 

  • The fix here is trickier. NBC will show night games in Nov. for the duration of the deal. And, they believe they paid for access to all B1G teams. This is really a massive communication blunder.

Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State are confirmed for that list, but it is very case by case. Some teams emphasize not wanting to play home night games specifically. Nebraska, for example, has announced they will play night games regardless of week or venue. To partially remedy the second issue above some concessions were made for 2023:

OSU is playing a night game on the 2nd Sat in Nov. and PSU at MSU was moved to Ford Field.

One more concession that was snuck in under the rug, is that when Peacock announced its first few games, they made it clear they have 9 streaming exclusive games in 2023. That is more than the previous 8 we were told in 2022. I think for legal reasons I should say that I’m speculating, but I believe that increase to be part of the fix to the Nov. night game shenanigans.

Now to the Peacock games that are announced:

Week 1 – East Carolina at Michigan (12:00PM EST)

This is the type of game that belongs on Peacock. A non-conference game that is expected to be a blowout. Peacock clearly wants teams with large fan bases to increase their subscriber count. And who can blame them?

Week 2 – Delaware at Penn State (12:00PM EST)

Second verse, the same as the first. A little bit louder, and a little bit worse. Penn State is the big fan base this time. And Delaware is the FCS sacrificial lamb. Penn State could’ve at least played an FBS team like Michigan. Come on guys.

Week 3 – Washington at Michigan State (5:00PM EST)

This game is the issue. How did this happen? This is the best B1G game this week, and I don’t think that’s debatable. If that assumption is correct, then when FOX, CBS, and NBS were drafting weeks, NBC got this week to pick the first game. (Or FOX picked 1st and genuinely thinks Penn State at Illinois will be a bigger TV draw).

How did NBC pick the “Peacock” games?

Now we know “some Peacock games” have to be non-conference games, and some have to be conference games. We don’t know the numbers, but after a season or two we will be able to figure it out. What makes the most sense to me, is that it was going to be 5 non-con and 3 intraconference. And now with 9 total, Peacock likely got an extra conference game to make it 5 and 4. 

This should seem like common sense: Peacock gets non-con games to start the season, then switches to a few conference matchups when the “non-con season” is over. But in week 3 NBC picked up 2 B1G non-con matchups during the super secret TV game draft meeting. They also have Syracuse at Purdue, a game that would make sense on Peacock.

It is known that Peacock consults the conference about which games it wants to show, but there isn’t any known veto power that the B1G holds. Peacock got the national TV draw game, and B1G Saturday Night got the mid-tier game. I have no idea if this was related to the NBC contract issues and this was a concession the conference made to NBC to “make things right.” I hope that’s the case though. I would like to believe Purdue was the original Peacock game, and Michigan State was the NBC Primetime game.

The alternative is much worse for the fans:  this was going to happen regardless. 

That would imply:

  • The Big Ten can’t tell Peacock – no, you can’t show that great game, show whatever is next best. 
  • NBC is prioritizing its streaming service over its Saturday Night programming
  • NBC is willing to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the B1G, who they have a 7-year contract with. 

Peacock and the Future

We still have 6 more B1G games that are going to be announced on Peacock this year. In a world that makes sense, the Peacock games would be selected after FOX, CBS (on weeks they have B1G games), NBC, and FS1 all get their pick. Peacock should be getting around the 4th pick when they pick. NBC shouldn’t get to put the better game on Peacock and a lower-tier game in primetime. 

We can only hope more good games aren’t lost to streaming. Odds are most of us that want to see the game will get Peacock for the season, then cancel in December. This means Peacock gets what it wants, subscribers.

But, a game on Peacock isn’t the primetime national spectacle it could be if it was on broadcast television. Washington at Michigan State on Peacock is good for Peacock,

but it’s bad for the fans.

Want more Walk On Fan?

Check out this week’s Wisco Wednesday where we give an overview of the Badgers’ schedule this fall.

This article was written by Cole Tollison and edited by Hayden Breene

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