SBD/Issue 33/Sports Media

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson Discusses The mtn. Carriage

Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson Wednesday appeared on KFNZ-AM and said the conference "on any number of occasions in the last several months ... could have pulled the trigger and put [The mtn.] on seven western states," but it waiting on national carriage deals. Thompson said, "How does that help someone in New York or Florida or Texas or beyond? ... We fully expect to be on satellite and we fully expect that distribution to be national." Thompson: "We recruit in Florida, we have athletes in other states. … Should we cut off 43 states in recruiting just to get seven?"  Thompson indicated conference members are telling him to pursue national deals over local ones. Thompson added The mtn. is in around 1.2 million homes in the MWC footprint in the net's second year.  The conference had a five-year projection of getting into 4 million homes, and Thompson said, "We do need to grow exponentially and we do need to add a lot of satellite dishes in the next season or two to hit that four million projection." Thompson said of overall carriage: "It's something that we need to improve and get the satellite distribution. I think that’s a crucial element of this" (KFNZ-AM, 10/24). In Utah, Scott Pierce writes, “If that’s true, that’s appalling. The people who approved this plan knew going in that it would take five years to reach cable distribution of four million homes?” (DESERET MORNING NEWS, 10/26).

BTN: In Detroit, Michael Rosenberg writes of the stalemate between the Big Ten Network (BTN) and Comcast, “The conference wants to make money for its schools and increase exposure for its athletes. ... At least the Big Ten is up-front. Comcast, on the other hand, acts like it is fighting hunger and curing cancer by insisting that the [BTN] belongs on a ... sports tier.” Comcast execs are “angling for a piece” of a possible SEC Network, and if a deal is reached, “you can be sure Comcast will put [it] on expanded basic in Southern markets.” Rosenberg: “For Comcast, this isn’t really about the [BTN]. It’s about precedent” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/26). Univ. of Minnesota (UM) AD Joel Maturi and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney write an Op/Ed in the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE in response to an editorial that appeared earlier this month.  Maturi & Delany write the BTN “warrants widespread distribution to provide maximum access to [UM] sports and programming to the people of this state. The editorial takes the position that, although 150 cable operators throughout the eight-state Big Ten region carry the network at no extra cost to consumers on their expanded basic package, Comcast should instead place it on a sports tier to generate hundreds of extra dollars from each customer” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).

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