During the “War to End All Wars”, Wrigley Field stood firm on the home front in the Windy City. Over 100 years later, the “Friendly Confines” still stand and host the Chicago Cubs. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, Major League Baseball’s senior ballparks are national treasures, revered by sports fans and urban historians alike. Occasions like this year when college football’s rich history and tradition intersect with Wrigley Field should be national events.
As a result, the report of Peacock and not NBC broadcasting the Iowa and Northwestern game at Wrigley Field may come to the chagrin of several football fans, especially those in Big Ten country. However, Peacock may be a solid destination for this game.
In 2021, Aidan O’Connell sent more balls into the Wrigley Field sky than Hack Wilson did in 1930, throwing for 423 yards in a 32-14 win over Northwestern. However, the game saw low viewership as the Big Ten sent it to the Big Ten Network and made the game start at 11 AM CT.
It also did not help that the clear-cut game of the day, #4 Ohio State versus #7 Michigan State competed directly against it on ABC, drawing 5.287 million viewers. In all, 718,000 television viewers watched only the second college football game at Wrigley since 1938.
Any football game at Wrigley Field deserves better than getting thrown on a conference network as an afterthought. Wrigley Field’s contemporaries, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, each get showcase games during bowl season. Wrigley Field commands that type of respect.
This year’s selection by Peacock may be the best outcome for the Wrigley Field game. While streaming is still a hassle for many, with consumers forced to spread money across several options for optimal sports coverage, Peacock has some merit. Peacock is cheap at only $5.99/month, and though it is not the most robust portfolio, their catalog of 10 Big Ten exclusive games, one Notre Dame game, one NFL wild-card game, and a weekly MLB game is nonetheless impressive.
The value is better than subscribing to cable or an over-the-top provider (YouTube TV, Sling TV) just for access to a game like last year’s Purdue-Northwestern game. If you are a college football fan who loves tradition and history, it is hard to justify paying anywhere from $40-65 to access mid-tier Big Ten action along with the coveted Northwestern-Iowa game.
Additionally, the Iowa-Northwestern game has a chance to be nationally relevant. Save your Iowa jokes for later, as they are old and lack creativity, because the Hawkeyes are quietly one of college football’s most consistent teams. With the Big Ten not ditching divisions until 2024, Iowa could be in the Big Ten Championship Game mix and technically in New Year’s Six contention when they face Northwestern. This could be enough for college fans nationwide to pay the $5.99 to watch a nationally relevant game at iconic Wrigley Field and access a couple of other Big Ten games too.
While the verdict is still out on whether the Big Ten sending Iowa and Northwestern’s Wrigley Field clash to Peacock, the decision likely gives more fans access to such a special game. Wrigley Field may get the national audience it deserves for its football spectacle.