2023 Football

Feast of HBCU football games viewable in 2023

No Deion Sanders at Jackson State, but HBCU games on TV and streamed online continue to proliferate. Over 150 can be watched or streamed in 2023.

Between the August 26 kickoff of the upcoming 2023 HBCU football season and its Dec. 16 culmination, fans can watch or stream more than 150 HBCU games.

That’s up from the 140 games available in 2022.

HBCU football games on ESPN family of networks

ABC has the honor of televising and Atlanta the honor of hosting both the bookend games. The MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Jackson State vs. South Carolina State) kicks off the season and will be played at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium (7:30 p.m.)

The season-ending Cricket Celebration Bowl will be played between SWAC and MEAC champions at the downtown Mercedes Benz Stadium (12 noon).

But that’s not all ESPN on ABC, majority owned by the Walt Disney Company, is airing.

ESPN Plus airing lions share of HBCU football games

Over 69 games involving HBCU teams will be streamed on ESPN Plus, the network’s stand-alone service available for $9.99 per month. They include 12 games in the first three weeks of the season where HBCU teams travel to face FBS opponents.

That coverage kicks off with NC A&T traveling to Alabama-Birmingham and Arkansas-Pine Bluff visiting Tulsa, both to open the season at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31.

A day later (Fri., Sept. 1, 6:30 p.m.), Howard is at Eastern Michigan.

ESPN Plus will carry a weekly package of 18 SIAC games. It begins with the Sept. 9 Benedict at Edward Waters 4 p.m. contest and ends with the league’s Nov. 11 championship game.

In-conference ESPN Plus SWAC games begin with the Southern at Alabama State and Prairie View A&M/Texas Southern Labor Day Classic games on Saturday, Sept. 2. Eighteen other SWAC in-conference games are on the ESPN Plus schedule.

ESPN’s special HBCU football games

ESPNU, the company’s digital cable and satellite arm, will kick in with five Thursday night games. Three SWAC games, two from the MEAC and one from the SIAC are scheduled for that channel.

Additionally, ESPNU will also carry a Friday, Nov. 10 SWAC game of Grambling State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9 p.m.). ESPNU games debut with the Sunday, Sept. 3 Red Tails Classic in Montgomery (Ala.) matching Tuskegee and Fort Valley State (7 p.m.).

ESPN, the company’s flagship channel, will only carry the Sunday, Sept. 3 (3 p.m. ET) Orange Blossom Classic matching Jackson State and Florida A&M from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

ESPN2, the second outlet for ESPN’s mainstream sports coverage, gets on board with the Pepsi SWAC Championship (4 p.m.) on Saturday, Dec. 2. The title game will be part of Pepsi’s expanded deal with the SWAC.

HBCU football games on HBCUGo

The online site HBCUGo and cable network, TheGrio, both bought by media mogul Byron Allen last year, will air 23 HBCU games this season. Two games will be carried each week. The coverage will begin with the HBCUgo Kickoff Show hosted by Charlie Neal at Canton, Ohio’s Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 26.

The schedule begins with a Sat., Sept. 2 Classics doubleheader. The Chicago Football Classic pits Central State of the SIAC and Mississippi Valley State of the SWAC at historic Soldier Field at 4 p.m. The SIAC vs. CIAA Carolina Classic matching SIAC defending champ Benedict and CIAA contender Shaw kicks at 6 p.m. in Columbia, S. C.

Other classics on the HBCUGo broadcast schedule include the Sept. 9 Southern Heritage in Memphis (Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Tennessee State) and the Willard Bailey in Richmond, Va. (Fayetteville State @ Virginia Union). It will carry Alabama A&M’s Sept. 30 homecoming game vs. Tuskegee and will be back in Richmond for the Doug Wilder Classic (Virginia State @ Virginia Union) on Sat., Nov. 4.

Five SIAC in-conference games are also on the HBCUGo/TheGrio schedule. Besides Shaw’s game at Benedict, HBCUGo and TheGrio will carry five other CIAA in-conference games.

The network’s CIAA schedule ends with the CIAA title game from Salem, Va. on Sat., Nov. 11. Additionally, all CIAA conference games are to be available on its CIAA Sports Network (https://theciaasn.com).

Other carriers

If looking for North Carolina A&T and Hampton games – programs that have taken up residence in the newly named Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) – FLOFootball ($19.99 per month, $150 for the year) is the spot.

FLOSports opens with Norfolk State at Hampton (6 p.m.) and North Carolina Central at North Carolina A&T (7 p.m.) on Sept. 9 in non-conference games. Eight Hampton CAA games will air on FLO including the Oct. 28 matchup with A&T for the Pirates’ homecoming.

Six NC A&T CAA games are on FLO including the Aggies Nov. 4 homecoming vs. Towson.

NBC Peacock is carrying Tennessee State’s historic first-ever matchup at Notre Dame on Sept. 2. NBC Sports will also carry the Sat., Nov. 25 Bayou Classic in New Orleans as Southern and Grambling State go at it.

The CBS Sports Network has two HBCU vs. FBS games on Sept. 9. The ACC Network (two games), SEC Network (two games), and Pac 12 Network (NC Central at UCLA on Sept. 16) get into the act when HBCU teams play teams from those conferences.

Feast of HBCU football games viewable in 2023
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