Conference USA's new TV deal places am emphasis on weeknight games with every conference-controlled game in October taking place on a weeknight. Conference USA's main TV partner is CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) which has a long-running partnership with the Northeast Conference. CBSSN has been a longtime partner of the Northeast Conference, airing multiple basketball games since the 2013-14 season.
Surprisingly, this agreement has not carried over to football. Conference USA's TV deal provides a model for how weeknight games on CBSSN could work. While Conference USA will provide the network live weeknight content in October, plenty of space remains for a Tuesday or Wednesday night NEC game.
If Conference USA is making it work by having games like New Mexico State-FIU and UTEP-FIU on Wednesday nights, the NEC can put an in-state rivalry or two on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. Hosting games like LIU-Wagner and Sacred Heart-Central Connecticut State are much easier on student athletes than the games Conference USA is playing on October weeknights.
Furthermore, the NEC can focus in on some of its bigger markets with these weeknight CBSSN games. The NEC can get the attention of the Pittsburgh TV market with a September weeknight Duquesne-St. Francis (PA) game one week and cater to Wagner-LIU alums by showing the Seahawks and Sharks another week.
A deal like this would do wonders for recruiting as it would already give the conference more exposure than the CAA whose games are behind the paywall of Flosports with a couple schools partnering with RSNs and local over-the-air channels. Being the only game on TV on a national network carried by Hulu and YouTube TV is a solid selling point for the conference.
With eight members and a wave of recent defections, the Northeast Conference needs new ideas to stay relevant on the FCS scene. Weeknight football games could be the fresh idea that the NEC needs to increase their brand.