SNY will air an NEC football game when LIU hosts Merrimack for the first time this weekend. The game will air on tape delay and stream live on NEC Front Row at noon ET. This boosts the NEC’s media profile as SNY boasts a carriage of seven million homes in the New York City area and nine million homes nationwide.
While several (regional sports networks) or RSNs stand on shaky ground, the New York Mets back SNY, and its presence in the country’s largest media market makes it a viable TV option. While tape delay is suboptimal in the internet age, it allows LIU-Merrimack to compete with a less-crowded time slot where they can compete for viewers, compared to its actual kickoff of noon ET.
LIU joins Monmouth, Fordham, Columbia, and even Princeton, who makes a token appearance on SNY in the Harvard game, as programs partnered with SNY.
While the programs win with another means of broadcasting to complement streaming, SNY is arguably the biggest winner in this partnership.
As the streaming industry is finding out, consolidation is crucial for RSNs. With New Mexico State joining a conference, UMass partnering with ESPN, and the ACC taking its Raycom-produced package to The CW, FBS college football has left RSNs behind.
However, RSNs are still holding on at the FCS level. RSNs, like the Marquee Sports Network, owned by the Chicago Cubs, and the Monumental Sports Network, formerly NBC Sports Washington, have deals with one team. Marquee airs select Illinois State games, while Monumental Sports Network airs Richmond games.
Any live programming other than professional sports is a blessing for RSNs, as it draws diehard fans from both programs. Yet, the diehards will always be there to watch their team. No casual college football fan will subscribe to a cable provider or YouTube/Hulu Live TV to watch one college football team.
SNY has the advantage over other RSNs in the diversity of their coverage. Their coverage is enough to draw a casual college football fan in the Northeast to their channel. SNY broadcasts games from four different FCS conferences and 14 schools.
On tape delay, these games could serve as a more natural alternative to the PAC-12 After Dark and Mountain West After Midnight games for Northeastern college football fans who may have little rooting interest in distant schools.
For the Northeast Conference, the tape-delay airing of LIU-Merrimack is a victory by association. Being on the same regional network as arguably the second-best FCS conference and the Patriot League will direct more eyes in the region to the conference.
If SNY is wise, they will extend this partnership to other NYC metro schools in the NEC, such as Wagner and Sacred Heart. In the end, the steady consolidation of Northeast Conference college football is a feel-good storyline for the NEC.