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Peacock Classic: An NIL Breakthrough for Participating Players

The Peacock Classic is a 2021 National Championship Game rematch and will air exclusively on Peacock, as participating players will be able to earn money by promoting the game.

It’s been almost 20 months since Gonzaga took an undefeated season into the 2021 men’s NCAA championship game, only to see Baylor run them out of Lucas Oil Stadium as the Bears captured their first-ever national title.

Those two teams will meet again on Dec. 2, this time in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the inaugural Peacock Classic. The game will stream exclusively on Peacock, and participating players will have the opportunity to partner with event sponsors to promote the game through NIL deals.

This marks the first time that college athletes will be able to earn money promoting a game they are set to play in. Every athlete who opts in will be paid the same rate.

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“Presenting and sponsoring the first-ever ‘Peacock Classic’ is a historic moment for Peacock, providing fans with a must-see matchup featuring two of college basketball’s premier programs,” Rick Cordella of Peacock Sports said in a release. “In conjunction with NBC Sports Athlete Direct, we’re excited to offer an innovative NIL opportunity that benefits Gonzaga and Baylor student-athletes.”

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is an NIL community that connects student-athletes with advertisers through their own NIL marketplace. Gonzaga and Baylor players that opt in will be able to use the marketplace to partner with event sponsors and promote those sponsors via social media.

As one of the highest-profile non-conference games of the year, the Baylor vs. Gonzaga rematch is already generating buzz more than two weeks out. The game sold out within five minutes of going on sale to the public, according to a representative from the Sanford Pentagon, which will host the game.

In addition, the Zags entered the season ranked second in the AP Poll and have already played three nationally televised games, including a Pay-per-View exhibition against Tennessee. As for the Bears, they will put their No. 5 ranking on the line this weekend when they face No. 16 Virginia, then either No. 8 UCLA or No. 19 Illinois at the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas.

Peacock Classic Social Reach

From an NIL perspective, this game presents a significant opportunity for players and advertisers alike. Not only are Gonzaga and Baylor two top-five teams (though Gonzaga may fall after losing to Texas on Wednesday), but they also have some of the most valuable names in college basketball. According to On3, which ranks college athletes by projected NIL valuation, the Bulldogs and Bears feature four of the nation’s 70 most valuable college basketball players:

  • Drew Timme (Gonzaga): 111,714 followers (90,500 Instagram, 17,064 Twitter, 4,150 TikTok)
  • Keyonte George (Baylor): 155,385 followers (120,566 Instagram, 5,819 Twitter, 29,000 TikTok)
  • Julian Strawther (Gonzaga): 39,325 followers (31,485 Instagram, 6,069 Twitter, 1,771 TikTok)
  • Nolan Hickman (Gonzaga): 35,080 followers (31,401 Instagram, 3,679 Twitter)

“Our goal is to create the most visible platform for student-athletes and provide them the best opportunities to showcase their skills and build their brands,” said Will Funk, president of Range Sports, which will handle TV distribution and advertising for the game. “With this event, we want to play a key role in the evolution of collegiate athletics by ensuring that the student-athletes are given opportunities to monetize their name, image, and likeness.”

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