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NBC and Irish extend rights through 2025

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NBC Sports Group announced a 10-year contract extension to televise Notre Dame football games Thursday, doubling the length of its previous agreement.

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NBC and Notre Dame said the extension would begin in 2016 and run through the 2025 season. Terms were not disclosed, though the current five-year contract is reportedly worth an average of $15 million annually.

NBC will have global media rights on all platforms to a minimum of seven Notre Dame home football games each year, with most airing on NBC. The deal also allows for games to be carried on the NBC Sports Network cable channel.

NBC has held Notre Dame football TV rights since 1991.

``Coming off one of Notre Dame's best and most dramatic seasons in decades, we could not be more proud to extend this historic partnership, which continues to be one of the most innovative in sports-media history,'' NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said. ``We are particularly excited that this extension offers enhanced rights that allow us to bring Notre Dame football to fans on more platforms than ever before.''

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the addition of the NBC Sports Network will allow for greater exposure for the football team and other Notre Dame sports programs.

``We look forward to collaborating on additional projects and distribution strategies in seasons to come,'' Swarbrick said in a statement.

David Bank, a New York-based equity research analyst who specializes in sports rights fees for RBC Capital Markets, said the new contract probably will generate ``meaningfully more'' revenue for Notre Dame than the previous deal. He said he couldn't estimate how much more.

College sports TV rights fees have been going up and will continue to do so with the start of the Fox Sports 1 cable network in August, Bank said. He said he wasn't surprised at the announcement of the NBC-Notre Dame extension.

``Fox Sports 1 has NBC Sports playing defense,'' Bank said. ``It's imperative to lock down content that is left.''

Notre Dame's football team finished the regular season 12-0 last season and lost to Alabama in the BCS championship game. According to NBC Sports Group, the Irish averaged 4.4 million viewers and a 2.8 household rating for its seven games on NBC in 2012. That marked a 69 percent increase in viewers and 67 percent increase in household rating compared with 2011.

Notre Dame plans to continue using revenue from the contract to fund the school's financial-aid endowment for the general student body, not including athletes. The school said that since 1991, about 6,300 undergraduates have received nearly $80 million in aid from revenue generated through the NBC contract.

Notre Dame also uses NBC revenues to endow doctoral fellowships in its graduate school and MBA scholarships in its Mendoza College of Business.

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