| FTBL "I dove deep on why Notre Dame is not going to be in a rush to join a conference, even after Texas & OU shook up the CFB world…"

Me & @aadelson wrote this spring how the ACC can close the gap w/SEC/B1G. There were essentially 2 real answers from ADs we spoke to: Texas/OU or Notre Dame.

Well, Texas/OU appear off the table.

So let’s talk ND...

(very long thread… 1/x)

First, let's clarify where things stand w/ND: When Notre Dame joined the ACC as a partial member (all sports but football + 5 guaranteed football games/year) it agreed to a.) the same grant of rights deal (through 2036) as everyone else (except for football) + a big promise (2/x)

@mentionsND's deal with the ACC says that IF the Irish join any conference, it MUST be the ACC. I've confirmed this agreement runs concurrent to the grant of rights, so in place through 2036. Of course, there's a way out of everything in college sports, but it would VERY expensive. (3/x)

@mentionsOf course, the B1G and P12 would love to land ND, too, as a means of leveling the playing field with the new-look SEC but there is a massive financial hurdle. Could the B1G, with a massive new TV deal in the near future, overcome that? Maybe, but the ACC will not go gently. (4/x)

@mentionsBigger caveat in ND/ACC agreement is the word "if.” There's a hot take now that ND needs a conference more than ever. I'm not so sure, for a few reasons, but start with this: They had a great 2020 in the ACC & Swarbrick says they came away MORE committed to independence. (5/x)

@mentionsSwarbrick: "We thoroughly enjoyed being an ACC member for a year, but it also gave our fans that comparison. So not only because of their interest but my own, our own assesses, independence remains a priority and important to us." (6/x)

Funny side note: I spoke to Swarbrick on July 15 to get his take on several issues, including the future of realignment. Swarbrick: "I can't imagine anybody using the word 'stability' in college football. What's it look like? None of us knows, but not stability.” (7/x)

How's the ACC feel about that? Jim Phillips last week, pre-Texas/OU: "They know the ACC’s interest. It’s been less than bashful. They know where we’re at. Who knows where the future’s going to go. I love the schools we have but you always have to be ready to add.” (8/x)

So here's the state of play: ACC needs Notre Dame more than ever. Notre Dame says it remains committed to independence. How do those sides come together? ACC needs leverage, and at this time, it probably has less -- not more -- than it did a week ago. (9/x)

What constitutes leverage? Playoff positioning for one, and that's interesting because the proposed 12-team format would require the Irish to play an opening round game no matter where they're ranked. Wouldn't be in a conference be beneficial for seeding? (10/x)

Swarbrick: "I'm less bothered by it than some are because I like the notion that, if we're playing one of the teams with a bye on Jan. 1, we've played the same number of games. I always found the argument [that we don't play a conf champ game] off the table... (11/x)

more Swarbrick: "I always found that argument very specious, but that's off the table now. If we're playing in that round, we've played the same number of games, even if we didn't play in a conference championship." Swarbrick insists most fans are OK w/this, too. (12/x)

Of course, in a 12-team playoff, a team in a conference has 7 possible paths to the postseason. A team without a conference has six. And now, this new-look SEC and the "every game is tough!" narrative that will come with it, is going to command a big % of those 6. (13/x)

Better case for ND joining a league, however, is money. Right now, ND is leaving money on the table every year it remains independent. In 2019-20, the ACC paid $32.3M/full membership & $10.8M to ND, while NBC gave Irish appx $15M for a total of about $26M - a $6.3M gap. (14/x)

But 2 years ago, Forbes estimated ND to be the 5th-most profitable college football program, so that $6.3M/year really doesn't matter much to the Irish. It's the cost of independence, and they think it's a fair price. But what happens if that gap changes? (15/x)

The B1G, for ex, sent $55M to its members (some tricky math on Rut/UMd but still...) & will have a MASSIVE new TV deal after 2023. If ND had to choose independence over, say, $65M/year in the B1G, the cost of independence would be $39M/year, and that's a diff calculus. (16/x)

But ND isn't free to join the B1G, so the question becomes, can the ACC find a way to increase the cost of independence for the Irish to a point where there's real pressure to make the jump. But that's the Catch-22. ACC can't up TV $ (deal thru 2036) w/o ND joining. (17/x)

There's another caveat here, too: Jack Swarbrick is VERY smart, and he's already thinking long term. Linear TV revenue drives everything now, but ND is making moves in the direct-to-consumer market that's driven, fittingly, by its independence, with Fighting Irish TV (18/x)

Fighting Irish TV is still in its infancy, but it's already off to a VERY strong start, and it could become a full-on subscription model as early as 2022, as @awfulannouncing reported here: awfulannouncing.com/ncaa/notre-dam…(19/x)

@mentionsIn addition to broadcasting the spring game this year, FITV has a great cache of old ND games -- available because ND owns its own historical footage! -- plus press confs, features, etc. But that's really just the start, as @MattBrownEP discussed a while back. (20/x)

@mentionsSide note here: Subscribe to Matt's newsletter. It's awesome and is one of the reasons I started digging into learning more about Fighting Irish TV in the first place. You'll learn a ton, and it's content you will not find anywhere else. extrapointsmb.com(20.1/x)

@mentionsSo imagine ND found FITV so successful that it felt it could easily get $100/year out of subscribers & with a massive national brand, it could sell that to, say, a quarter-million fans. That's an extra $25M/year in revenue and its content ND owns & controls. (21/x)

@mentionsBut even that is just the start. Again, Matt Brown explains a bit of where the real advantage to something like this product lies..."The value ...is in either the user data, selling other products, and finding another way to talk to your most die-hard supporters." (22/x)

@mentionsMatt's on to something. Again, Swarbrick: "It's part of a broader, more important phenomenon we're very focused on, which is the need to fundamentally change the relationship with the fans from a transactional one to a participatory one. That's the bigger picture... (23/x)

@mentionsMore Swarbrick: "We don't want to just sell you a ticket. We want to know who you are, what about ND is important to you, and to have all sorts of assets available to you based on what you're interested in that will help build that relationship." (24/x)

@mentionsTo be sure, Swarbrick also sees FITV as a way of future-proofing ND's viewership market, saying the platform puts the Irish "in a leadership position for what is, effectively, content on demand" but it's about looking at what a modern relationship w/fans is all about. (25/x)

@mentionsSwarbrick brilliantly says he's "learned so much from Fortnite" as it pertains to revenue streams. "You're so invested and the commerce surrounds your interest in building your individual presence in the game." It's about fans creating "an identity" that ties them to ND. (26/x)

@mentionsIn the future, Swarbrick sees FITV as an entry point to fans creating user avatars, having NFT ticketing, tailored stadium/viewer experiences, credits for activity that opens doors to better perks, etc. And I'm really just scratching the surface of this stuff. (27/x)

@mentionsSwarbrick: "It is not the traditional model of attending the game, being passionate about the outcome, then wait for next game. This has to be, in the emerging metaverse and media space, all about feeling a sense of ownership." (28/x)

@mentionsA lot to digest, I know, but you can see ND thinking longterm, and that longterm vision rests, in many key ways, on independence and the ability to create its own "metaspace" with an OOT delivery system. The revenue potential for that over the next decade is immense. (29/x)

@mentionsNow, planning for a hypothetical future sounds great, but who knows what 2031 looks like? 2021 is already shocking, so maybe all this longterm thinking gets overshadowed by immediate needs. Again, I talked with Swarbrick 2 weeks ago (i.e. in another reality entirely). (30/x)

@mentionsBut the point is that, even a big revenue difference in TV deals doesn't necessarily put ND at a real, longterm disadvantage. There's much more to the puzzle, and ND's biz model looking ahead is build around independence, so the sales pitch has to be special (31/x)

@mentionsMaybe Phillips can pull it together: New TV deal for big $, add a scheduling partner (Navy?), allow ND control over more of its content on back end. Might be time to look at unequal $ sharing, too. Point is, ND may not hold all the cards, but it's got a strong hand. (32/32)

@mentionsOne last add to this… talked w/someone familiar with ND’s philosophy who says they care about 3 primary things:
-Access to playoff ✔️
-A home for Olympic sports ✔️
- TV partner ✔️

Part 1 is only thing that could remotely change but at this point, access is only getting easier.
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