Every TV company in the country has the same priority right now: prying as much money as possible away from their most loyal consumers. Okay, that's not exactly different from how every business operates, but they're all going about it in the same way, by throwing all their resources behind their OTT (over the top) streaming services.
After Netflix and its ilk forever disrupted the TV and movie businesses, every media company is now becoming its own Netflix -- ESPN has ESPN+, HBO has HBO Max, Disney has Disney+, NBC has Peacock, and on and on it goes.
So, too, it goes for college football programs.
Notre Dame on Monday announced its OTT streaming service -- Fighting Irish TV -- to super-serve the Fighting Irish super fan. The service is already available for download on on AppleTV, Amazon and the Google Play store.
And that's definitely the target audience here. In addition to the offerings already available on the athletics department's website and app, here's what will be available for consumption on Fighting Irish TV: The Vault (a collection of full Fighting Irish home football games since 1991), the 2021 Notre Dame Football Pro Day, live press conferences, game highlights, feature video stories and much more.
"As in all things we do, we look at how to better serve our fans and this opportunity to be a leader in the television application space with our archived content was no different. I’m especially excited by the extension of our existing digital ecosystem that this platform makes possible in a world increasingly dominated by on-demand viewing," senior associate AD for media and branding Rob Kelly said.
For now, this is very much a supplement to existing Irish coverage, especially considering Monday's announcement included no information about a cost associated with Fighting Irish TV. But it's not hard to squint and see a future where Notre Dame home games are available exclusively on Fighting Irish TV.
Considering the NFL just committed the vast majority of its inventory to the Big Four TV networks through 2033, any predictions that all sports will move exclusively online two, five, even 10 years in the future are clearly premature. So I'm not going to sit here and say Notre Dame will abandon its TV contract for FITV within the foreseeable future.
But what this does show is that schools are learning from media companies. NBC saw how popular The Office became on Netflix and decided to rake in its own subscriber fees, and thus Peacock was born. ESPN is fully aware that no one under 35 has a traditional cable or satellite subscription, which is why ESPN+ exists.
If and when the shift to an all-digital future happens, Notre Dame is preparing today to cut out the middle man and go into business for itself.