NFL Network Deal Provides C-USA Stability, Financial Boost
Conference USA's four-year deal with NFL Network to air 10 regular-season games annually will help the league's media-rights haul grow to "more than double" the approximately $200,000 that each school took home as recently as the '16-17 season, according to Chris Vannini of THE ATHLETIC. C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod said the league "first got in the door" with NFL Network through contacts that Senior Associate Commissioner Merton Hanks has with the NFL. She said, "It wasn't something that was even on their radar, because they've never done a college package." Negotiations took three months, with MacLeod saying, "The first two months of it, I felt like we're trying to sell ourselves to them. Then as we started getting toward the end, and it was getting close to when our ADs and our presidents would make a decision, consider options, I really felt like a turn, and now they were pursuing us because they had a great interest in after doing their research and seeing how it might fit." She said C-USA's overall media-rights picture is in "much better shape than a couple years ago." MacLeod: "We've reset our value in the market a little bit. Everything is synced up on the same schedule now. This was a four-year deal. Our five-year deals (with CBS and Stadium) started last year. So in four more years, everything will end at the same time" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/18).
ONE BIG STEP FORWARD: Marshall AD Mike Hamrick believes the NFL Network deal is a "big step forward as the conference looks to improve its television imprint." Hamrick said, "They haven't done this with any other conference. It's absolutely one of the greatest things that ever happened to Conference USA in recent history" (Huntington HERALD-DISPATCH, 7/14). In Virginia, Ed Miller noted the agreement "won't be a financial windfall" for C-USA, but it "partners the league with a prestigious brand, and offers a chance for exposure." Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz: "It's a phenomenal opportunity for our conference" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 7/18).