Notre Dame-Air Force game to be broadcast on CSTV
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame fans will see how the rest of the college football world lives this weekend as they scramble to find where they can watch the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish play at Air Force.
For the first time since 1992, a Notre Dame football game will not be shown by either NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN -- a streak of 169 straight games. The game will be shown on CBS Corp.'s CSTV, a college sports network normally seen in about 15 million homes.
CSTV is offering its programming to cable operators for free this weekend, but not all operators are accepting. Brian Bedol, president and chief executive for CSTV, estimates that the game will be available to about 30 million to 40 million homes through cable television, DirecTV or the Dish Network.
For people who live where the game is not available on cable, such as the South Bend area, they can watch the game on their computers on a pay-per-view basis. It costs $14.95 for people who sign up for the game before Saturday and $19.95 for people who sign up on Saturday.
Bedol said making the game available by computer is nothing new for CSTV, which will show more than 10,000 college events this year on CSTV.com. He said the events are viewed by a wide variety of people.
"Broadband has become ubiquitous and sports fans are taking advantage of broadband connections more than any other demographic category. So we find that those who tend to watch the games are alumni, but a much broader age range than we initially anticipated," he said.
John Heisler, Notre Dame's senior associate athletic director, said he has heard from some upset Irish fans who believe the school has some say in where the game is shown.
"You get a few people who don't understand how it works and they think we dictate it all," he said. "Some fans just assume we're the ones who make all these arrangements for every one of our games."
But he said most people understand that the home team controls where the games are broadcast. CSTV has the rights to the game through its contract with the Mountain West Conference. Air Force is a conference member.
The last time a Notre Dame game wasn't broadcast by the big NBC, CBS, ABC or ESPN was Oct. 31, 1992, against Navy. The game was televised only in the South Bend area by WNDU-TV, the NBC affiliate in South Bend.
Bedol said the idea behind launching CSTV three years ago was to make college athletics, particularly in lesser-known sports, more accessible to fans.
"To be able to now, less than three years later, actually have a Notre Dame football game is very exciting," he said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press