Mountain West Conference Reaches Media Deals With Fox, CBSSN
Fox Sports has reached an agreement with the Mountain West to carry a package of the conference's football and basketball games that formerly was held by ESPN. Separately, CBS Sports Network renewed its package of MWC games. The Fox and CBS deals combined will be worth about $35M annually -- around $20M from CBS and $15M from Fox. The lengths of the deals are not clear yet, but MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson has said that he wanted shorter terms than the 10-year deals the MWC had previously. The games in the Fox package are expected to run primarily on FS1. The new Fox and CBS contracts, which will go into effect July 1, provide the conference's 10 schools -- not including Hawaii and Boise State, which have separate arrangements -- with a significant revenue lift. Under the old contracts, those 10 schools made $1.1M per year, per school. That per-school figure should jump to about $3M or more. The league's media deals are complicated because Boise State's home games are negotiated separately from the rest of the conference. Hawaii also has a separate deal, as it is a football-only member of the MWC. The conference worked with Wasserman as an adviser on the deal (Ourand & Smith, SBJ Media). In Colorado, Kelly Lyell noted the MWC "disputed the report" and said that no deal has yet been reached. The conference in a statement said, "The story is inaccurate as reported. No deal has been signed by any party, and negotiations are ongoing" (Ft. Collins COLORADOAN, 12/17).
DOING WHAT'S BEST FOR THEM: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler notes MWC presidents and ADs "held their winter meetings Sunday and Monday in the Phoenix area, where they were expected to receive a framework of a new media-rights package." The conference "debated whether to continue with linear television networks but continue ceding control of kickoff and tip days and times, or 'cut the cord' and pick a digital partner for less money but full control of when games are played to generate more revenue from ticket sales." The MWC "appears to have chosen the latter, against a backdrop of increasing athletic department expenses and dwindling revenue streams." This likely means "weeknight football games, maybe even on Thursdays," since FS1 "regularly airs the Pac-12 on Friday and Saturday nights." What still "remains unclear" is what will happen to MWC inventory "not shown by CBS Sports and Fox Sports, and who pays for it" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/17). In Colorado Springs, Brent Briggeman notes there was no immediate indication "that the deal will impact start times for football games, which has been a point of contention for many fan bases" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 12/17).