Detailing the Mountain West TV contract

By Chadd Cripe

We've got plans for a bunch of Boise State-to-the-Mountain West coverage over the next couple weeks, including a story for Friday's paper breaking down the details of the Mountain West's TV deal.

I know fans are concerned about the availability of games and some people think being on ESPN less will hurt the Broncos, but there's really only one part of that TV deal that's going to matter. By my estimate, Boise State would get about $700,000 more per year from the Mountain West contract. Considering Boise State cut its budget and had layoffs at this time last year, that's a significant amount of money.

Several Mountain West presidents have said they expect to take a serious look at expansion at their meeting June 6-8 in Jackson, Wyo. The only school that would make sense is Boise State because of the BCS implications.

Here are a few other highlights of the deal:

— The deal began in 2006 and is worth $120 million over 10 years. The contract runs through 2015-16 — meaning Boise State likely would have to play five years in the Mountain West before a reunion with ESPN would be possible.

— Versus and CBS College Sports show eight to 10 football games each per season. The Mtn. shows 30. They combine for about 100 men’s basketball games and 20-24 women’s basketball games, mostly on The Mtn.

— To show a football game on local TV, a school must get permission from the TV partners. That is rarely granted because those networks are trying to build their subscriber bases and are protective of their time windows. Boise State shows about half of its regular-season games on local TV. The Mtn. essentially replaces the local TV broadcasts.

— Among the Mountain West’s big three — TCU, Utah and BYU — only two games aren’t expected to air on TV this year. Those are Tennessee Tech at TCU and San Jose State at Utah.

— Mountain West teams play just four non-Saturday games this season. No team plays more than one such game. Boise State is scheduled to play five non-Saturday games this year.

— Mountain West games are fairly easy to find in the Boise area if you’re willing to pay for them.

CBS College Sports (38 million subscribers) is available on Dish Network (152) and DirecTV (613) but not Cable One. Cable One likely would be forced to pick it up if Boise State joined the Mountain West.

Versus (74.1 million) is available on Cable One (326), Dish (151) and DirecTV (603).

The Mtn. (8 million) is available on Cable One (329) and DirecTV (616) but not Dish.

ESPN and ESPN2 have nearly 100 million subscribers. But the Mtn. would provide greater exposure than the local TV deal with KTVB.

Versus was not shown on DirecTV last season because of a dispute between the two entities. That has been resolved.

The Mtn., started in 2006, was the first network dedicated to one athletic conference. It is co-owned by CBS College Sports and Comcast.

Right On Chad

Thanks for the breakdown. Looks like Direct TV will be the way to go.

we in Ft Worth can find

we in Ft Worth can find Russian and Mexican food prep show more easily on a Saturday in the Fall than we can a TCU football game,,,

Get a ticket then.


Facebook is the enemy of privacy. Logging into it here or clicking Like is is insanity. We are free our sites should be clear of nonsense. Demand service.

Seems that fans all around the MWC have dificulties seeing games

ESPN rules!

Maybe, just maybe.....

it had to do with DirecTV not having Versus (75 million subs) last year.....ya think?

nope, there's been numerous issues since TheMtn launched in 06

last years DirectTV/Versus issue was just one of the latest and I doubt you'd have even known about had I not brought it to your attention.

Actually kid,

It was the first thing I looked into, in fact it's an interesting read on what the split was about and why the two sides finally agreed to a deal. The MTN has had it's issues, but again, nothing to turn down a MWC.

I still find it somewhat unbelievable that you would turn down better competition, a couple of mil a year, a legitimate shot at being in an AQ conference just so more people can watch BSU beat La Tech 48-20 on a Tuesday night.

We won't know if it'll be a good move until 3 things happen

1) Big Ten Expansion occurs
2) The MWC becomes a BCS AQ
3) BSU actually gets an invite from the MWC

All we know for sure is that the MWC's Plan A isn't to extend an invitation to BSU. We don't even know if the MWC is seriously considering it or if this is all just a rumor. The MWC has made it clear that they have no intent on expanding and they could become an AQ without us and own the conferences own merit, so the only way I see BSU getting an invite is if Big Ten expansion yanks one of the MWC's big 3 away and they end up in need of a replacement so that they can continue their BCS AQ argument, but plan A for the MWC isn't to add BSU.

I'm all for better competiton as you're well aware of, but if we move to a more competitive, non AQ conference and receive less national exposure, then I think it's a poor decision despite the increased revenue. Don't forget that I'm not a kool aid drinker and I don't think that BSU would be able to run the table in the MWC like they've done in the WAC and after our first 1-2 loss seasons in a different conference, we're going to see a lot of people second guess the move.
Like I said, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


The Mtn started in 2006, due to a dispute between the MWC and ESPN It is co-owned by CBS College Sports and Comcast, in that those two entities together are %50 owners and the MWC itself owns the other %50.

In order to get The Mtn, Bronco fans would have to pay a premium fee to get the package that includes The Mtn Network, which means that BSU would get little to no coverage in the heartland or the east or west coast.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it fall...does it make a sound?

so BSU might make some more TV money. Is that a GOOD trade off for national exposuse of ESPN?


could not agree more.

The Mtn.

The MWC does not own half of the network -- those two entities own it all, according to the league office and The Mtn.

The distribution of The Mtn. shouldn't be an issue. Boise State would appear on Versus, CBS College Sports and ESPN (for non-conference road games) as often as they appear on ESPN now — or possibly more. TCU appears on those networks 10 times this year and The Mtn. just once.

The Mtn. would replace KTVB, which has less reach than the Mtn.

The loss of visibility comes in playing on Versus and CBS College Sports, which aren't as widely available as ESPN and are easy to miss when you're in the habit of going to ESPN to see what's on.


You mean there would be no more Tom Scott and Mark Johnson calling all of the action? Say it isn't so! lol

The KTVB deal is with BSU's marketer agent isn't it?

It would be to show Bronco games, not WAC or MWC although it has to be authorized either way.

The MTN is not on Dish although VS is. Somehow this brings to mind somebody's girlfriend hiccuping and swallowing her chew by mistake. Rather unsavory.


Facebook is the enemy of privacy. Logging into it here or clicking Like is is insanity. We are free our sites should be clear of nonsense. Demand service.

So is the switch to MWC a

So is the switch to MWC a done deal? Have I been asleep?


Nope. The presidents meet next month. This is all based on the possibility of an invite, which is considered more likely this year than ever before.

Okay I have reading

Okay I have reading comprehension problems cuz I see that paragraph now that says BSU to the MWC "makes sense" but the meeting isn't till next month. Missed it in the previous 2 readings.

that's ok

I added a sentence after reading your comment for clarity, so that's probably why you didn't see it.

And the EDSEL made it to showrooms!


Facebook is the enemy of privacy. Logging into it here or clicking Like is is insanity. We are free our sites should be clear of nonsense. Demand service.

Couple of questions

1.) Does the conference share the TV money evenly with all programs?

2.) Can you find out the impact on the TV contract if programs are added, or if teams leave?

couple answers

1. Revenue is distributed evenly except, like in the WAC, a team qualifying for a BCS bowl gets a bonus from that money.

2. I didn't get an answer from the MWC on what happens if there's a membership change. The guy I talked to said he just didn't know. I would imagine that if there was a mass exodus from the MWC, the contract would have to be re-opened in some way.

Edith Bunker Award of the Day.


Facebook is the enemy of privacy. Logging into it here or clicking Like is is insanity. We are free our sites should be clear of nonsense. Demand service.

Mountain West Conference and BSU.......

National exposure by ESPN is critical for "selling" the Boise State football program to recruits nation wide. The MWC needs Boise State, the Broncos do not need the MWC. All the Broncos have to do is keep winning, a BCS paycheck more than makes up for any weak Mountain West TV contract. Nobody is going to see Washington at BYU on Sept. 4th but millions will see Cincinnati at Fresno State on that day. How many millions will see Boise State vs. Virginia Tech at FedEx Field on Sept. 6th? No the MWC has nothing to offer the Broncos or the Bronco Nation and with so many other rumors about conference expansion we'd be foolish to make any decision until the dust has settled a little more.


The BSU-VaTech game would have been on ESPN, regardless of whether or not BSU was in the MWC. This of course was already covered in the article. As far as selling it to a recruit goes, the BSU coaches will now be able to say to the recruit's parent's that they will be able to see every single one of their son's games on TV.


I keep hearing the exposure argument, but it hasn't mattered to TCU, BYU and Utah. I think five years ago it was an issue. Now, Boise State is a household name. And Boise State does need the Mountain West because the MWC is first in line for BCS berths among the five non-BCS leagues. Boise State got beat out by Utah in 2004 and 2008 and nearly got left out in 2009. Boise State still would get to play a Va. Tech-type game — ESPN put together the Oregon State-TCU game this year, too. They'd still be on ESPN when they play Mississippi in 2011 and Oregon State in 2012 and probably with future non-conference road games against Fresno State and Hawaii. Their bowl games likely would be on ESPN.

And if the MWC gets an automatic BCS berth, that's worth about $1 million per school — in addition to the money they already get for putting a team into the BCS now.

Throw in reduced travel costs, more NCAA basketball revenue and increased ticket sales (the home schedules would look a lot better in the MWC) and Mountain West membership could be worth $2 million-plus a year. Boise State can't turn down that kind of money when their costs are escalating at a torrid pace.

Big Ten expansion could erase the MWC's chances at a BCS berth

Here's a key scenario that should be considered. Suppose the MWC decides to send an invite to BSU and BSU takes it and leaves the WAC for the promised land of the MWC and a few weeks later, the Big Ten sends an invite to either BYU, Utah or TCU.

Subtract one of those teams away from the MWC and BSU finds itself in a more competitive BCSless MWC, playing 2 to 3 games that would be regionally televised on The Mtn or Versus as opposed to those games being broadcast nationally on ESPN.

BTW, you're right about the MWC not having 50% ownership of The Mtn

Kid, here a better scenario

Say the Big 10 invites PITT (Penn State ties) and either U Conn or Rutgers (for TV eyes) and The MWC stays intact. The Big East's "average team rank" drops to within 2-3 points of the MWC. They would be forced to pick-up a non-top 50 team, which further hurt their "ATR". There is a very good case that the MWC could qualify for BCS status if the Big East is raided.

Just a thought......

Kid, here a better scenario

Say the Big 10 invites PITT (Penn State ties) and either U Conn or Rutgers (for TV eyes) and The MWC stays intact. The Big East's "average team rank" drops to within 2-3 points of the MWC. They would be forced to pick-up a non-top 50 team, which further hurt their "ATR". There is a very good case that the MWC could qualify for BCS status if the Big East is raided.

Just a thought......

Big Ten expansion's focus is on expanding TV markets

The Big Ten is going after schoolS that WOULD expand the reach of the Big Ten TV Network, therefore, there's no need to add add Pitt because they've already got Penn State.

There are rumors that Texas might leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten and if so, then TCU will be of no interest to the Big Ten, however, The Big 12 might be interested in replacing Texas with TCU, so which ever way the wind blows, TCU might be a key player for either of those conferences. Then there's BYU with their mormom viewers, not only in the Utah market, but nationwide, which is why they're rumored to be attractive to the Big Ten as well, but if the MWC loses one of their top teams to the Big Ten then the addition of BSU is a wash when it comes to the conference gaining an auto BCS berth.

All I know is that it's going to be interesting to see how everything plays out, and in my opinion, BSU should wait until the expansion dust settles from The Big Ten expansion, and a possible SEC expansion (rumor has it if the Big Ten expands, that the SEC is interested in bringing in Fla St and Miami from the ACC) so college football is going to see some major changes, therefore BSU should wait and see what happens before they decide on going into the MWC

I agree Chadd....

....the key is money. It's all about the money. Being invited to join the MWC would go a long, long way is solving what I have considered to be a major issue with BSU....selling out home games. For the most part, the MWC membership would give BSU a greatly improved home schedule. Depending on the year, BSU would entertain BYU, Utah, TCU, Air Force, Colorado St., Wyoming, etc. I actually think the BSU athletic/marketing department could sell out those games. They clearly should be able to or something is really wrong (ticket pricing/promotion/marketing).

The invitation does present one problem in my mind. Non conference scheduling. BSU already has a series of games with Utah and BYU on the board. They would become league games which would put the pressure back on BSU to come up with other non conference opponents. Because of the new conference affiliation my bet is that the Bley would go soft again (Tulsa, Toledo, Miami Ohio and God forbid UC Davis). Those games have not and will not sell out. How can they increase the size of Bronco Stadium without selling out what they have 80-90% of the time? How can they attract key BCS opponents without increasing the size? They can't very easily.

As you mentioned Chadd, now that BSU is a 'household name' isn't it time they sold out their games? 33,500 fans in a market the size of Boise? It's the schedule combined with some high priced 'cheap' seats that is hurting them now. The MWC at least will bring some higher quality teams to Boise. Yes, OSU and UO were good schedule opponents but many more like them is needed to take this program to it's proper level.

NM-SDSU- Air Force- CoSt- Wy-UNLV would see WAClike attendance

after the novelty of being in the MWC wears off, atendance will drop to WAC-like figures with the exception of BYU and Utah and possiblly TCU provided that they don't move to the Big Ten or Big 12.

Not being on ESPN isn't worth the TV money of the MWC. The only benefit I can see is if our inclusion brings an auto BCS berth to the conference, but can BSU dominate the MWC in the same fashion that they dominated that WAC? I guess we'll see. We also need to keep in mind that while on ESPN the nation saw us play but in the MWC only a small region will see us play. Do you really think anyone on the east coast is going to contact their cable provider and ask for The Mtn? I don't. I don't even think most of Bronco Nation is going to subscribe to The Mtn either, but instead they'll pack the various Boise sports bars.

Lousy Penetration

As an Eastern Idaho Dish subscriber who pays way more than the minimum to get access to as many sports channels as possible, I still don't get the Mtn., and so have not watched a Utah or BYU game in years. I have watched many BSU games on ESPN. If I were you, Chad, in doing your story on the Mountain, I'd be very explicit about what tiers it is available on with the various satellite and cable services. Just because you can get the MTn. by buying a LOT of extra tiers doesn't mean many people will do so nationally. Whereas EVERYBODY has access to ESPN.


Again, it doesn't matter what the penetration of The Mtn. is. That's replacing local TV — games the rest of the nation wasn't seeing anyway. The only impact there is that Boise State fans will have to pay for something they get for free now....And that 8 million number is subscribers. It's actually available in 28 million homes.


Why do I even give a d@Mn if College Station, Texas sees a game I can't hope to?

Seek rehab. You sound like Rocky.


Facebook is the enemy of privacy. Logging into it here or clicking Like is is insanity. We are free our sites should be clear of nonsense. Demand service. can you say that it doesn't matter?

In addition to saying that The Mtn's penetration doesn't matter, you go on to say that the only impact there is that Boise State fans will have to pay for something they get for free now. You do realize that KTVB carried just about every single BSU game, both home and away, that wasn't carried by ESPN don't you?
C'mon now Chadd, do you really think that The MTN is going to do that?


Yes, I do. As I pointed out, TCU has all but one game on TV this year. Utah has all but one. BYU has all of its games. As long as BSU is an top-tier program, nearly all of its games would be on TV. It would be an issue if the program slipped. Then not all of the games would be on TV. ... The Mtn. needs good programming to sell subscriptions. If they've got Boise State, they're going to take full advantage of it.

it's evident that the MWC isn't very interested in BSU or else

we'd already be a MWC member or at least have an invite. To me, it appears that the MWC is as interested in adding BSU as the BCS is in adding the MWC.

Here's some food for thought, which would be more impressive, ESPN Game Day coming to Boise, or The Mtn's broadcasting a-team coming to Boise? That kinda puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Furthermore, which team shows up on ESPN highlights and is talked up more often, TCU, BYU and Utah combined...or BSU?
If BSU goes to the MWC, they'll drop off the national radar in an instant and especially so if we lose a game or two in the MWC and don't dominate the MWC. If that were to happen we'd be hyped as the most overrated program in college football history considering that a large portion of the country already thinks that.

Some of the biggest regular season games in BSU history have been set up with the assistance of ESPN and as such BSU and the WAC should re-negotiate their ESPN contract for more money and explore every option because if Bley ends up going to a BCSless MWC simply because he's in the Red it's a huge mistake, but then again, I'm wrong more than I'm right...or vice versa


How many times has MTN/MWC shown the 2010 Fiesta Bowl game between TCU and Boise State?? Maybe they really do not want Boise State? It seems I may have seen atleast one (1) BYU's bowl game.


So if ESPN wants to cover a BSU game can BSU take the deal or can the MWC turn it down and make us play the game on The Mtn.? I'm concerned because of all the great fans we have across the nation (even the world) that would miss out on our games if they were not on ESPN. I think if we join, we should throw in that we want to be on ESPN anytime it is available (the way we do now).


All games in Mountain West stadiums are subject to the conference TV deal — no ESPN. But road games and neutral-site games are different. Those are governed by the home team's contract. Or, in case of neutral-site games, there is some gray area. Oregon State and TCU are playing this year in Dallas but the game was brokered by ESPN and is being shown by ESPN.

Boise State still would appear on ESPN two or three times a year — once or twice during the regular season and likely in a bowl game — as long as the Broncos are good.

Making demands to the MWC is not going to happen. Boise State wants the MWC more than the MWC wants Boise State.

Is this going to kill the

Is this going to kill the chance at home-and-home games with the big programs? I know it's a foggy dream to think about, say, Alabama or Florida accepting a deal like that, but if they were to think about it, then find out the game here would be on MTN and not ESPN would that be a deal breaker for them?

Only more seats

will get us home and home deals with those schools.

Only more seats

More seats? Or more butts? ;-)

Ah! The argument for better 'jeanetic' makeup!


Facebook is the enemy of privacy. Logging into it here or clicking Like is is insanity. We are free our sites should be clear of nonsense. Demand service.

I wouldn't think so

Utah has Pittsburgh at home this year. BYU had Florida State at home last year. ... Games like that end up on Versus, which has extensive reach. And being part of the Mountain West would probably help because the league has a better reputation.

Re: games like that end up on Versus, which has extensive reach

Games that end up on Versus, might have extensive reach, but you've got to admit that it's nowhere near the national reach of ESPN, and when it's all said and done, aren't we essentially talking about the differences between the minor leagues and the major leagues?

BSU needs the MWC more than the MWC needs BSU.....

....don't forget that fact. Determining which conference to join based on that conference's TV contracts is absurd. Did the lack of an ESPN/MWC hurt Utah or BYU or TCU? No! BSU will still have ESPN games. Maybe not the low rated Thursday, Friday games like they do now but they would enjoy their fair share of ESPN non conference games (providing they schedule quality opponents). The only thing that would hurt BSU as member of the MWC would be if the Bley went 'soft' on his non conference scheduling, thus hurting the chances of ESPN (or other networks) picking up their non conference games. BSU vs. Toledo is not real appealing to ESPN, right?

I think most are making waaaay to big a deal out of the ESPN 'loss' should BSU join the MWC. Does Fox NW hurt Washington, Oregon, Oregon St.? Not really.

Let's also remember on other fact. BSU fans are SPOILED as far as TV coverage is concerned. For the size of BSU's fan base, they get FAR more coverage than normal. If the game is not on ESPN, then KTVB jumps on them. I really hate to say this, but BSU should not allow KTVB to show especially the weak home games. Put a demand on the tickets first! Make these so called 'couch fans' BUY a ticket! When the games are sold out then go to TV. But I would 'blackout' any game that is not sold out by 2 days in advance of the game. Sorry. How will BSU every increase the size of their stadium by allowing thousands of so called 'good fans' sit a home and never come to a home game? Do you have any idea just how many so called 'big time BSU fans' have NEVER BEEN TO BRONCO STADIUM?

Re: Does FoxNW hurt Washington, Oregon and Oregon St?

The fans of the SEC, ACC, BIG EAST, BIG TEN and Big 12, all in unison just responded....WHO ARE THEY?

According to those fans the only things worse than the PAC-10, in order are:
1) Div-II programs
2) The MWC
3) The WAC

In college football, the only two things that really matter are east coast writers/voters and the BCS. Besides, without ESPN who's going to line up big name non-con games for BSU, Bley?

BSU needs MWC.....

Right! KTVB should not show any games that are not sold out!!!!!

A couple points to remember ...

Dont forget ... in CFB the home team/conference controls the TV rights.

When Oregon State plays @ BSU it is on ESPN as part of the WAC package. When TCU plays Oregon State @ Cowboys Stadium it is TECHNICALLY an OSU home game so it is part of the Pac-10 package on ESPN.

Considering games are picked up all the time with FOX and ESPN we can reasonably expect only 1 BSU game per season to be in jeopardy ... that would be the 2nd OOC home game against a lesser opponent.

Every year the MWC contract has been tweaked and improved. Nearly EVERY game is in HDTV. The mtn. is growing each year. Cox Cable (which is SDSU territory) last spring added the mtn. to its Orange County, CA and AZ systems where the MWC does NOT have teams ...

We are on ESPN 5-6 times a year. We will STILL be on ESPN ... probably twice -- both road OOC games. The ESPN contract has been GREAT for BSU ... but for the rest of the WAC not so good. It is clear the MWC contract has not hurt Utah, BYU, or TCU in their exposure or national rankings. It MAY be a bump ... change is always difficult ... but it will not hurt BSU in the long run.

But the ONE overriding variable in this is one little tidbit: Comcast is buying NBC-Universal. They have big plans for Versus. So in less than a year you are going to have the MountainWest Sports Network owned 50-50 by basically NBC and CBS. In a world yearning for programming and content one has to think if the MWC-10 attains BCS status the possibility of an on-air Saturday game ... especially on NBC is a real possiblity.

ESPN has been great for Boise State. But it is time to move on. BTW ... you will se nearly 10X as many MBB and WBB games on the mtn. as you will see in the WAC contract. They also had games on CBSCS and Versus last winter, also.

This is a good thing. I know putting down the ESPN crackpipe is hard. It is just time.

Broadcast quality on VS

We watch VS on Cableone. The quality of the video is poor. Does the Mountain broadcast in HD? Will VS upgrade their video?