Conference USA announces new partnership with NFL Network

By Mary Scott McNabb

Conference-USA has signed a four-year deal with NFL Network that will bring conference games to the airwaves starting in 2019. The agreement means that 10 C-USA games will be broadcast each season – one a week on Saturday afternoons. 

"While exploring new media options for football, NFL Network stood out as an excellent opportunity for national exposure," C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said. "We look forward to showcasing our conference through their tremendous platform and reach." 

The games will not be revealed until the rest of the C-USA multimedia schedule starts to come out. In addition to the cable channel, viewers will be able to watch games on the NFL app and stream it through Watch NFL Network. 

In many ways, C-USA has been among the most aggressive of the FBS conferences in finding new ways to market its product. The conference has broadcast games on Facebook, Stadium and beIN networks, along with traditional games on ESPN and Fox affiliates. NFL Network is easily the most high-profile of the new-wave options. 

Playing games on NFL Network also helps fans of C-USA teams get a chance to watch the games on national broadcasts, and with prime timeslots instead of being relegated to morning kickoffs. For example, in Week 13 – the final week of the 2018 regular season – only one of seven conference games were nationally televised. 

"We are excited to showcase the next generation of NFL athletes to our fans on a weekly basis," said Hans Schroeder, chief operating officer at NFL Media. "Our fans crave live football, and partnering with Conference USA – a conference which boasts several Hall of Fame players – provides us with an excellent opportunity to do so."

NFL Network is down 4.4 million subscribers since August 2018, per Awful Announcing. Live sports continues to be one of the biggest draws in television, no matter the level.

Playing on NFL Network will only continue to increase the brand of a league that's hungry for attention. There were 83 C-USA players on NFL rosters at the end of the season, and 16 players have been picked in the draft over the past two seasons. 

Four Texas teams play in Conference USA: North Texas, UTEP, UTSA and Rice. 

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