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Notre Dame/NBC "Hard Knocks" Show Coming 2024

Written by Connor Regan Writer Twitter/X: @ConnorReganIT

Photo by The Irish Tribune

Notre Dame and NBC-Universal have just renewed their media rights contract through 2029. This marks the 7th deal between the two, extending the most unique exclusive media partnership in all of collegiate sports to 39 years. Historically, each agreement has centered around the rights to broadcast Fighting Irish home games, but this new deal will expand the relationship in a completely unique way. Outgoing athletic director Jack Swarbrick confirmed that beginning with the 2024 season, Notre Dame football and NBC's "Peacock" streaming service will produce an annual "season-long documentary, their own version of (HBO's hit series) 'Hard Knocks' over the coming years, and have their own tile/channel on Peacock"

per Fox Sports' Bryan Fischer. Swarbrick reported the show would debut in 2024, but it's currently unclear when it will specifically premiere.

As of right now, there are very few specifics regarding this "Hard Knocks" style show, but there's plenty to speculate on. 

"Irish Knocks"

Fans might remember the Showtime produced "A Season With Notre Dame Football," which premiered in 2015. It chronicled the Irish season from start to finish and, like "Hard Knocks," it gave a more intimate view of players' lives on campus, injury struggles, pep rallies, season-long narratives, and team camaraderie. Each game was shot from unique perspectives, complete with footage from the sidelines and in-game conversations between coaching staff and players. Alongside the games, the show closely followed practices and team meetings, position battles, and evolving player relationships. It was a deeper look into the program few typically see, and served as a collegiate version of the in-season "Hard Knocks" shows. There will likely be several parallels between the Showtime series and the coming Peacock production, but will now be in the hands of a longtime trusted partner in NBC.

The new show will likely follow a similar approach to its Showtime predecessor, giving the audience a look into the life of a college football player, but unlike before, the landscape has completely changed, and the dynamics of college football are becoming more and more like that of the NFL, making the transition to a "Hard Knocks" style show that much easier. Hard Knocks is known for its authentic and raw look at life in the NFL, complete with the ugly and sometimes sad parts of the game that players and coaches alike face each season. This will be Notre Dame's attempt to provide a similar level of real-life access, but with more of a personal touch than last time.

Photo by the University of Notre Dame Media/Athletics

Irish Access Duke Video

Providing further inspiration, the "Irish Access" video put out by the Notre Dame social media team following the Duke matchup was one of the most compelling pieces of sports media to come out of Notre Dame in years. Complete with the coach's comms, it was dynamic and gripping from start to finish. It began in the coach's box, communicating down to the field, a narrator setting the scene, the music conveying the intensity of the moment, complete with field-level footage chronicling the game-winning final drive. Sam Hartman scrambles for a game-saving 1st down with the coach's box erupting through the mics, ultimately leading to Estime's game-winning touchdown. We get an inside look at the decision-making before going for 2 points and the pivotal catch by Rico Flores Jr. to convert. If the new Peacock exclusive can produce something in this vein, replicate a similar feeling to cover each game while pairing that with the intimate "day in the life of" coverage seen in the Showtime series, pre-game preparations, and post-game comedowns, this show can take both Notre Dame and college football media coverage to a whole new level.

For Notre Dame, the continued partnership with NBC will ensure their project oversight, guiding the show to act as a promotion and advertisement for the University while making sure it reflects positively on its players and the University as a whole. This oversight and collaboration should reduce the possibility of affecting the athletes' performance and act as a conflict reduction measure. Despite a somewhat sanitized product, we may get the chance to see how the lives of college players have changed in the face of things like NIL, the transfer portal, and the brand-new 12-team CFP format. 

Questions Going Forward

With little confirmed information, there are a few questions to be answered:

  • Will the show only include the preseason/spring game/training camp? 

  • Will the show only include the regular season?

  • Will the show continue through the later parts of the season in years the Irish make the CFP?

  • Will the show only focus on NBC broadcasted home games?

  • How many episodes will each season have?

  • What will the show provide the audience that they can't get from player podcasts, vlogs, or the current "Irish Insider" videos?

If the Irish make the CFP and proceed deep into it, we could conceivably see 20-ish weeks of all-access Notre Dame coverage in a way we never have before. This will unlock countless sponsorship and NIL opportunities, increased recruitment coverage and media footprint, and an exclusive media platform no other college football program can provide their players, all coming on a premium streaming service. Yes, the paywall will dissuade some viewers, but premium content comes at premium prices, and soon, other top-tier college football programs will follow the Irish's game-changing media moves. The value Peacock and Notre Dame's content provides will soon be too much for fans to ignore.


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