NBC Cheers, Cheers for New Notre Dame

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The Brian Kelly era got off to a successful start at Notre Dame Saturday, and nobody could be happier than NBC.

The Irish and their new coach beat in-state rivals Purdue 23-12, making just enough second-half errors to keep the game interesting almost to the end. The result, a 2.3 overnight rating and 6 share, up 77% from last year’s season’s opener and up 15% versus the Purdue game last year.

Viewership was up slightly last season, the final year of the ill-fated Charlie Weis era. But while Weis was coach the Golden Dome’s football fortunes faltered and viewership fell by more than 20%.

NBC has been broadcasting Notre Dame home games since 1991 when Lou Holtz was coach. Holtz led the Irish to its last national championship in 1988. But in 2008 NBC extended its bet on the historic program with a contract running through 2015 valued at $15 million a year, according to published reports. That’s a lot of green.

It’s early in the season, of course. But if Kelly does indeed work magic with Irish football, maybe NBC can ask him next to try his hand at reviving NBC’s primetime lineup.

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