NBC announced today that the opening game of the 2021 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season - the first game Drew Brees will work as an announcer for NBC - will be carried exclusively on NBC's streaming service Peacock. If that sounds shocking, it kind of is. Notre Dame football and NBC have been synonymous for the last forty years. Now they're putting the home opener on the Internet? Good luck explaining that to the Subway Alumni.
Seriously, do you know a Notre Dame fan under 40? NBC now wants Fighting Irish fans to try a free trial so they can have access to a few seasons of The Office, a bunch of Bravo shows about people who work on fancy boats and one Notre Dame game against Toledo?
We all understand what is happening. NBC needs people to subscribe to Peacock. They need money. Please give them your money so they can keep making episodes of The Blacklist and paying for the Olympics they aren't showing you and yup, that's where I was actually going with this the entire time.
Have you enjoyed your Olympic viewing experience this year? Obviously, you can't blame NBC for the time difference, but it feels like even when something is happening live during daylight hours, you're lucky to see it. It's either on a random channel that doesn't match the program guide or hidden behind the Peacock paywall so NBC can try and pretend it didn't happen yet so they can show it to people who don't even actually care about sports in primetime. Also, sometimes they schedule swimming or running early in the morning in Tokyo so something is actually live on NBC each night.
No actual sports fan wants to watch something on tape delay. This was covered in the Seinfeld pilot 32 years ago. That also aired on NBC.
The only thing worse than that is that one-to-two minute delay you get streaming sports online. Anyone who has cut the cord in favor of some combination of streaming services knows the pain of trying to watch a game and be on Twitter. Admittedly, this is a very specific problem, but it's real. If you're online, specifically on Twitter, and watching sports online - like on Peacock for example - you're probably going to have a big moment ruined. While this is a choice that cord-cutters make, it's something that will always hang over the head of streaming services.
The other downside to sports moving to various streamers is that flipping back and forth is just not as simple. Changing tabs or apps, loading pages, buffering streams. How's your Internet connection? How far is that device from your wireless router? It's long been a running joke that by the time you add up all your streaming services, you might as well have cable. And cable comes with a remote and numbers and the always wonderful "previous channel" button.
I guess the ultimate question is how far will NBC go to sell you Peacock? So far they've put the Olympics and Notre Dame football behind a paywall. Those are two things you used to get on NBC for free. Will the Kentucky Derby move to Peacock? Maybe just the backstretch? How about the entire second round of The Open Championship? Perhaps that Saturday NFL Wild Card game in January? Don't think they're not discussing this.
It's not just NBC. Each major network is trying to figure out how much they can push you and charge you before you break. NBC is just the first network to fire major shots in the streaming wars. Now someone has to pay.