BILLINGS — The national title game of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision will be played on Sunday this season.
The annual game, currently hosted at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, has traditionally been held on a Friday or Saturday, but is scheduled this year to be played Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, at noon Mountain time. It will be broadcast on ABC.
ESPN made the announcement in a press release on Wednesday.
"We continuously work with the NCAA on ways to evolve our championship coverage," Dan Margulis, ESPN's Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions, state in the release. "Moving the FCS championship to Sunday opens up the possibility of capitalizing on the Sunday afternoon window on ABC, which we are regularly incorporating into our college sports programming."
Last season's championship game between North Dakota State and Montana State, played on a Saturday and broadcast on ESPN2, drew roughly 1.3 million viewers. NDSU won 38-10 to capture its ninth national title in the past 11 years.
The championship game that decided the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season was also played on a Sunday, when Sam Houston State beat South Dakota State 23-21 on May 16, 2021.
According to ESPN's release, last season's FCS playoffs were the most viewed in nearly a decade, with semifinal games between James Madison and NDSU and South Dakota State and MSU being the most watched semifinal matchups since 2009.
Bucknell athletic director Jermaine Truax, the chair of the Division I Football Championship Committee, said the move to Sunday will create greater publicity. That Sunday will also be part of the 18th and final week of the NFL regular season.
"The addition of our championship game to ABC’s Sunday programming lineup is very exciting news for all of us who are passionate about Division I FCS football," Truax said in ESPN's statement. "The committee greatly appreciates ESPN’s longtime commitment to showcasing the FCS championship and our outstanding student-athletes and coaches.
"The FCS championship is annually one of the most exciting postseason tournaments in college sports and having our national championship game on ABC will result in even more exposure for this great event."