The NEC Needs To Air a Week Zero Game on CBS Sports Network

Weeknight games are one step for the Northeast Conference, but Week Zero is the best way for the NEC to leverage its CBS Sports Network deal

SFU QB Cole Doyle
Source: Saint Francis Athletics

Despite FBS encroachments, the FCS maintains Week Zero as a landmark week. National television audiences witness schools in the subdivision and garner remarkable exposure. The fun could extend to the Northeast Conference, which recently revealed a television deal with CBS Sports Network.

One of the FCS’ most overlooked conferences now has a deal affording them more linear TV exposure than most leagues in the subdivision. The NEC schedules two Thursday night games on CBS Sports Network, yet the league should augment that package by adding a game during Week Zero. A Week Zero NEC game and CBS Sports Network form a perfect match.

Week Zero games typically face minimal competition since the number of games seldom surpasses ten. While the NEC would not claim a standalone TV slot during Week Zero, dissatisfied college football fans seeking competitive games on TV could easily switch to the NEC game without distractions from other games.

Historically, FCS games during Week Zero attract respectable viewership numbers, as demonstrated by the table below compiled from

FCS Week Zero viewership compiled from
Source: Redshirt Sports

A Northeast Conference game would likely rival the viewer numbers of the 2017 Colgate @ Cal Poly game, which attracted 190,000 viewers. In 2019, CBS Sports Network previously broadcasted a Week Zero FCS game when they aired Villanova @ Colgate. Even though neither school claimed a national following, the network used the game as the kickoff for college football’s 150th season.

Week Zero could serve as a platform for the NEC to showcase its champion to a national audience. CBS Sports Network could also televise a home non-conference game against a relatively high-profile opponent, specifically a Patriot League school. Either option holds merit.

An NEC Week Zero game proves beneficial for both the conference and CBS Sports Network. The conference secures unparalleled exposure, while CBS Sports Network gains a strong lead-in to any FBS game they broadcast that day.

The CBS Sports Network TV agreement stands as a pivotal step for the emerging Northeast Conference. However, the league must adopt a forward-thinking approach to leverage this deal. Securing a Week Zero game constitutes a crucial initial stride in achieving this goal.