Mountain West to pick up new TV exposure
by Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY Sports
The Mountain West is creating buzz this week for placing five teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
And now it’s increased its visibility via a new TV deal with ESPN. The network hasn’t had a deal with the league since 2005, for football and basketball.
The deal, which takes effect next year and runs through the 2019-2020 season, includes ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC televising at least three Boise State home football games nationally — and the rest of those homes on some ESPN platform, which could include ESPNU or ESPNEWS. The school, perhaps because its blue artificial turf is eye-catching to channel-surfers, draws strong ratings.
In addition, ESPN gets rights to up to 16 other conference football games and 31 conference-controlled men’s basketball games.
CBS, for its CBS Sports Network cable channel, also has Mountain West TV rights. Last year, CBS sub-licensed 10 MW games to the NBC Sports Network cable channel — which averaged 0.1% of U.S. cable/satellite TV households.
With Fox launching a new FS1 sports channel in August, and NBCSN getting more aggressive in trying to land TV rights to more events, ESPN’s Mountain West deal gives it rivals one less opportunity.