The eyes of the Northeast and the college football world will focus on tomorrow's debut of #NECatNite when CBS Sports Network airs the Wagner-St. Francis. However, this weeknight national TV spot is not the only beneficial TV appearance for the conference.
LIU travels to Maine in a game that Bangor's FOX affiliate, Fox 22 will air. This is one of three Maine home football games that Maine over-the-air stations will broadcast throughout the season as part of a long-standing deal for the state.
The Bangor, Maine media market is no behemoth, but it is still the 156th biggest market in the country, with 142,180 TV sets as of 2022. If just a third of the television sets tune into this game, around 47,000, it still would be a respectable viewership number. For comparison, last weekend's Florida A&M-Southern game, between two of the biggest brands in the FCS and Black College Football drew just 40,000 viewers on ESPNU.
More importantly, since the NEC's bounds do not stretch to Maine, this is even more important for the conference. The conference can get new viewers for future weeknight games if LIU competes well against the Black Bears. A win and solid viewership numbers will not aid expansion efforts, but a more solidified regional presence is crucial for a league like the NEC.
A win for LIU builds upon a respectable non-conference slate that saw the Sharks only trail Baylor by nine at halftime and lose 30-7. The Sharks have lost both previous matchups against CAA schools, losing both meetings against Villanova by a combined score of 73-28. A win against a CAA school is a statement for the NEC after Bryant fell upward from the NEC to the CAA in merely two seasons.
Wagner-St. Francis is the game that has the attention of FCS fans with the glitz and glamor of the CBS Sports Network cameras. However, LIU could be just as important a game for the NEC with a sizable New England network TV audience watching intently.