NBC Should Sublicense the HBCU NY Classic to The CW

NBC just sublicensed NASCAR races to The CW. The HBCU NY Classic can benefit from such an arrangement.

Morehouse and Howard will play in this year’s HBCU NY Classic
Source: HBCU Legends; Photographer - Kyle A. Mosley

The Bayou Classic is arguably the Rose Bowl of Black College Football, one of the most well-known games in the landscape. The annual game between Southern and Grambling transcends the Black College Football landscape because it aired on NBC from 1992-2014 and from 2021 to the present. Most college football fans may not realize the NBC family of networks airs a second, less famed HBCU classic, the HBCUNY Classic at MetLife Stadium.

CNBC and Peacock have aired the first two editions of the classic to little fanfare. While ratings are unavailable for the 2022 classic featuring Howard and Morehouse, last season's classic had underwhelming viewership.

According to SportsMediaWatch.com, 20,000 people watched Albany State take on Morehouse at MetLife Stadium on CNBC and Peacock. Only .01% of Americans tuned in to the SIAC clash. Much of this is due to the second-class status NBC gave to the classic. In comparison, 685,000 people watched last season's Bayou Classic on NBC, despite the game competing against the second half of Ohio State-Michigan and the first half of the Iron Bowl.

The HBCUNY deserves better. Luckily, there may be a path to increasing its exposure. Yesterday, NBC announced the sublicense of the final eight races of the Xfinity Series to The CW. NBC will still produce the races, but The CW will televise. A similar fate could meet the HBCUNY Classic.

NBC would be wise to sublicense this year's HBCUNY Classic between Howard and Morehouse to The CW. NBC can sell the rights for a respectable price to a network hungry for a piece of the American sports television pie.

The CW wins by getting much-needed inventory to serve as lead-in programming for Oregon State, Washington State, or ACC games. The network can earn the money paid for the sublicense back from advertisers. It is more burdensome to ask advertisers to pay for ad space for a game aired on CNBC and Peacock than an over-the-air network like The CW.

Most importantly, more people will view the HBCUNY Classic. Last season's 45-7 NC State win over VMI on The CW had ten times the viewers (205,000) of the HBCUNY Classic. If people tune into a blowout loss between an FCS team and a middling Power Four school just because it is on The CW, they will tune into a competitive game involving a participant in last year's Celebration Bowl.

NBC's willingness to sublicense to The CW should excite Howard and Morehouse fans. All parties associated would benefit from such an agreement. Most importantly, HBCU football will reach a broader audience, opening the door to future potential partnerships with The CW.

*Broadcast data on the Bayou Classic provided by Mattsarzsports.com*