Saturday, June 12, 2010

Boise Steps Up in (Economic) Class

Since the move to the Mountain West by Boise St. is largely an independent move when compared to the chaos of the Big 12, Big Ten and PAC-10, I think its a worthwhile discussion to look at where the MWC and WAC go, TV-wise.

Concentrating on the Mountain West, we'll have to wait and see what they decide to do regarding a conference schedule. Having more conference games does lead to a TV package that keeps more in-house value. Many home OOC games from lesser AQ teams and most non-AQ teams are chosen for TV based on that road team and can end up being a showcase for that road team.

Boise St. will at the end of the day make approximately 2x-3x more money from the MWC TV deal with CBS College Sports. The local TV games moving from a new contract with Learfield Sports with the local outlet KTVB to the mtn. is a plus for the Broncos on a national level and the mtn. is available on Cable One in Boise. CBS College, nationally, is a wash because it has comparable viewership to ESPNU. Based on the channel lineup I saw for Cable One, CBS College will need to be added, probably before the Broncos play at Wyoming this season. Versus is in less homes nationally, but is carried on Cable One.

To fit an extra team into the MWC, I think you could see 1-2 more games on both CBS College and Versus for the conference. The mtn. does many tripleheaders, so the time may be now for the MWC to consider a syndication package for 5-6 games. Video streaming should also become a priority, along with getting the mtn. on Dish Network. Increasing the MWC footprint so that Idaho is considered home territory for the mtn. should be a priority with the DirecTV contract.

As for the WAC, I expect it to take a hit. Boise St.'s success (and to a lesser extent, Hawai'i's run to the BCS in 2008) brought the WAC a better TV contract starting in 2010 (some portions of the contract started in 2009). Over the time that ESPN began televising the WAC with Boise St. as a member, BSU has appear in 40% of all WAC controlled ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 telecasts and since 2008, the number rises to 50%.

The ability to choose BSU is a big deal for ESPN. I believe it would be enough of a significant change in membership to ask for the WAC's contract to be reopened, possibly to lessen the number of WAC football telecasts and decrease the rights fee it will pay going forward, currently set at $4 million per year.

Craig Thompson, the MWC commissioner, mentioned that we're dealing with conference realignment in real-time and things are very fluid. The MWC may not be done.


Briana Weir said...

Very good analysis. Do you envision the real CBS maybe starting to carry maybe one or two mwc games in the reopened negotiations?

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Its possible. Start time will be an issue with most of the MWC unless there is interest in 10am local start times. I don't forsee CBS having MWC games after the SEC games. Also don't see CBS regionalizing MWC and SEC games in the same slot.