Despite coming into their home game against Columbia last year as heavy underdogs with an 0-3 record and being outscored 200-45 with two losses by 59 points, the Wagner Seahawks put up a spirited effort against the Lions. The Seahawks trailed only 7-0 at halftime before the Lions pulled away for a 28-7 win in the first meeting between the schools.
This year was supposed to be the return trip to Manhattan. Emphasis on supposed to. Earlier this week, the Northeast Conference released its schedule for the 2023 season. Absent from Wagner’s schedule was their October 7 road visit to Columbia. Losing this game hurts, as in-state and inter-borough rivalries are good for Northeast college football. However, the loss of this game stings beyond losing a regional rivalry.
Since 2017, Columbia has had multiple home games per season broadcast on SNY, the television home of Mets home games. In 2017, SNY aired all five Columbia home games and since 2018, SNY has aired two or three Columbia home games per season.
Below is the break down per year:
- 2017: Five home games
- 2018: Three home games
- 2019: Two home games
- 2021: Three Games
- 2022: Two Games
Beyond airing games live, arguably the biggest benefit of this contract is SNY’s tape-delay broadcast of Columbia games. In 2018, Columbia home games received eight tape-delay airings, while the Lions’ 2019 game against Penn received five tape-delay airings from October 19-October 23. For instance, here is SNY’s Columbia tape-delay schedule from 2018:
As mentioned before, SNY is the TV home of the Mets and while RSNs continue to struggle, SNY is not one of them. SNY has a carriage of over 11 million homes nationally, including over eight million homes in the Mets home market of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Northeast Pennsylvania.
Logically, there is likely a large intersection between Mets fans or Columbia fans/alumni in the Mets TV market. The same can be said about Wagner fans/alumni in New York City that happen to be Mets fans. As a result, a Wagner-Columbia game on SNY would have been appointment viewing for several people, potentially hundreds of thousands of them.
SNY usually simulcasts their Columbia games on ESPN+. It is likely that several Mets fans may just pay for a TV provider who carries SNY and not ESPN+, so the network likely gets significant viewership from both sources rather than just one over the other. Of course, live viewership is one thing, but the tape-delay viewership of a Columbia-Wagner game on SNY would have aided the Seahawks immensely.
SNY would likely have aired the re-run of the Columbia-Wagner game as filler programming multiple times throughout the week, giving the Seahawks significant exposure that their Northeast Conference counterparts lack. A competitive game aired multiple times would have significantly improved the national perception of a Wagner program that has a 2-34 record since 2019.
Instead of facing Columbia on October 7th, the Seahawks now have an open date. The Seahawks lost an opportunity for exposure outside of the NEC’s nine-game slate with ESPN3, which is separate from ESPN+ and requires a cable subscription or a streaming subscription with a service like YouTubeTV or Hulu, services that both cost over $60/month.
By losing the Columbia game, the Seahawks lost an opportunity to increase their brand in the New York/New Jersey area and potentially win recruiting battles against their fellow NYC metro NEC school, LIU.