The HBCU NY Classic Deserved Better From NBC

NBC pitted the HBCU NY Classic against steep competition this weekend. Could the network have accommodated the classic better?

The Morehouse-Albany State game received a poor 0.01 rating
Source: Morehouse Athletics

Yesterday, Sports Media Watch released last weekend's college football ratings, and there were a fair share of surprises. Colorado-Colorado State's viewership was easily the biggest story in the ratings game.

However, at the bottom of the ratings list resided another shocking development. Saturday's HBCU New York Classic between Morehouse and Albany State received a meager 0.01 rating on CNBC. In all, only 20,000 people viewed the SIAC showdown.

The game was competitive throughout. Morehouse trailed by only three points through the fourth quarter before Albany State tacked on a late touchdown for a 10-point win. Earlier in the season, other HBCU classics had better viewership on national TV.

During a saturated Labor Day Saturday, Grambling vs. Hampton drew 109,000 viewers and a 0.06 rating on NFL Network. The Pirates and Tigers actually outdrew the NFL Network's other game that day, ULM vs. Army.

The problem is not with Morehouse and Albany State but rather NBC's approach. Last Saturday was NBC's most crowded weekend for games on its streaming service Peacock.

In addition to the Albany State-Morehouse game receiving a CNBC-Peacock simulcast at 3 PM ET, Notre Dame kicked off its yearly Peacock-exclusive game 30 minutes before at 2:30 ET. Furthermore, Michigan State hosted Washington for another Peacock exclusive game at 5:00 ET.

For the first time, college football fans subscribed to Peacock had several options. Despite Morehouse's historic stature and revered reputation, Peacock's casual college football fans are likelier to tune in to Notre Dame or even a Michigan State vs. Washington.

The best solution is for NBC to give each game its own time slot. NBC could have kicked off the HBCU New York Classic at noon, pushed Notre Dame-Central Michigan to 3 PM, and then kicked off Michigan State-Washington at 6:30 or 7. Of course, this would have caused NBC's primetime Peacock exclusive to compete directly with the B1G Saturday Night game involving Syracuse and Purdue.

Nevertheless, there were nearly 90 minutes of overlap between the two games last weekend. This showed NBC did not hold Syracuse-Purdue in as high a regard as its other selections.

In the end, if NBC is going to pride itself on its coverage of HBCU classics, it must put forth a better effort to optimize television and streaming viewership. The network should organize its schedule better to give the HBCU New York Classic the attention it deserves.