Parker Boudreaux pulled a bus.
That was one the first moments the Notre Dame football program linked with Bleacher Report, even if that was simply an offensive line prospect announcing his commitment to the Irish. Next came Daelin Hayes and his “Dark Knight” themed video, with C.J. Holmes going fishing to announce for Notre Dame coming summer.
Now Bleacher Report, founded by Notre Dame alumnus and current CEO Dave Finocchio, will get its hook into the Notre Dame football program even further with a season-long partnership announced Thursday that is part sequel to Showtime’s “A Season With” and part something else entirely.
“It’s accessibility,” said Brian Kelly in a statement. “Showtime certainly from a production standpoint, and what they put on television is an incredible product, but this reaches so many more people.
“And our fanbase is so linked in to following us on a day to day basis, this gives them that daily dose of Notre Dame football.”
Ultimately the goal for Notre Dame is to move beyond a partnership with a major media company to both produce and distribute this brand of content, which is another way of saying behind-the-scenes access will likely be standard moving forward.
But the Bleacher Report partnership makes sense on a recruiting level as prospects look to build their social media profiles with the kinds of commitment videos Boudreaux, Hayes and Holmes participated in.
Bleacher Report has been eagerly complicit in that turn of recruiting coverage, where media companies are now part of the show instead of just covering it. Both Scout and Rivals have produced prospect videos in the past year.
For Bleacher Report, that change in the media landscape qualifies as an “evolution” in how college athletics, including at the recruiting levels, gets covered. Now Notre Dame is part of that change.
“Jack Swarbrick and Brian Kelly have been forward thinkers the past few years,” Finocchio told NBC Sports. “They’re just continuing to push the envelope on what a college football program can become. It’s a huge honor that we get to be a part of the next step in their evolution.”
It’s not clear what editorial oversight Notre Dame will have over the Bleacher Report series, which will be more short-form stories than season-long narratives, although that’s on the table as well. What is more plain is that Irish fans will again go behind-the-scenes with the program, starting this weekend at training camp.
Notre Dame had some editorial control over Showtime’s output last year.
Notre Dame announced Bleacher Report would have access to “practice, locker room, game day activities, home and away games, travel, academic classrooms and a wide array of student and campus life” and that the network’s channels would reach an audience of more than 200 million fans.
The Showtime series reached an audience closer to one million viewers on a weekly basis.