Well it is time again for some lively discussion in this edition of the Mountain West Roundtable. We've assembled a staff of geniuses that hopefully look nothing like the creepy crew that is pictured above. If you want to read what happened previously in the roundtable then check out the amazing March and April editions.
This time we are going after one of the biggest topics concerning the Mountain West: the TV Deal.
Here is your group of debaters this month.
- Wyoming - Matt - Cowboy Altitude
- Mountain West - Jeremy - Mountain West Connection
- TCU - Ben - Mountain West Connection
- Colorado State - Ian - Mountain West Connection
- UNLV - Jacob - Mountain West Connection
- San Diego State - Sam - Mountain West Connection
- Boise State - Kevan - OBNUG
Air Force and New Mexico don't get a say because their fans don't care. Also make sure you read all the way to the bottom for the results of this months power poll. This month we use the poll to determine which school has the best and worst uniforms in the Mountain West.
Here we gooooooooo!
TOPIC: How do you feel about the current TV contract for the Mountain West Conference? What are it's strengths and weaknesses? What would you improve?
Matt - Wyoming:
The TV deal for the MWC features games on NBC Sports, CBS Sports and it's own dedicated channel the Mtn. There have been plenty of fans and media members who have bashed the current TV setup but overall I think it is a solid deal. It is certainly the best TV deal for any of the Non AQ conferences and fans have access to every single conference game being televised. Lots of fans piss and moan about no games being played on ESPN but I'm just fine not having to deal with the world wide leader.
For schools like Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico it guarantees that all the conference games for football and basketball will be broadcast. The ability for fans to see their favorite team play (dependent on channel availability) is huge. If there was a TV deal with ESPN there is no way that so many games would be broadcast, especially for smaller schools like Wyoming.
I could go on for a lot longer but let's get the discussion started. Let the yelling begin!
Sam - San Diego State:
Living in San Diego, one of the biggest providers (Time Warner) doesn’t get The Mtn. AT&T doesn’t get The Mtn either. So it sucks from a San Diego perspective.
Ian - Colorado State:
In theory its good but it seems like the providers are screwing the pooch, following what Samuel said. Here in Fort Collins under Comcast it is listed as a family channel. So I can't just get the next sports package with other sports channels I want. I have to purchase the next tier available and spend more to get channels that I won't use. It would cost me more and give me less channels I want. How do you classify the Mtn as a family channel instead of sports? Not the MWC fault (maybe) but still a big problem with it. It is nice to see all the games that CSU plays, but availability and common sense seem to be missing sometimes. Overall its good but could be much better, I don't know the whole contract so I don't know where the blame lies with the channel classification.
Kevan - Boise State:
Ian, you should never let facts get in the way of blaming people for things. "Jeremy Mauss is responsible for SARS." See. That's how it's done.
Now about this Mountain West contract ...
The main problem for me is that Mountain West athletic directors and school presidents and commissioners do not see life through the same lens as Mountain West fans. And vice versa. The conference's television contract is actually a very excellent deal, replete with cashola, control, and coverage. Well done, Commissioner Hair. From a strictly business perspective, this deal is the Louisiana Purchase of non-BCS television deals. (The Sun Belt's TV deal, by comparison, would be the IHOP pancake day of non-BCS deals.)
But having a deal that makes business sense means nothing to fans if those fans cannot watch their team play.
So which is more important - having a television contract that pays teams big bucks and televises every game somewhere on some channel or having a television contract that is top-heavy with televised contests and light on income and that allows non-premier games to be broadcast locally?
First off we can all agree Comcast are greedy bastards, I love my TiVo but with that I can't use their on demand features since I do not rent their inferior DVR.
I could just end this conversation all together and say just get DirecTv and you get all the channels, done!
Onto the topic at hand.
Craig Thompson gets a lot of crap for stuff with the television deal, but it really is a good idea and was an innovation at the time. I think the television deal was a bit ahead of its time no one new what to do with it or how much it was worth. Had the tv deal been done even two years later the money would have been better and possibly distribution would have been better as well.
My main beef with the deal is when Comcast came aboard they did not offer the channel at all nationally on any capacity, even though they are one of the biggest cable carriers in the country. This has started to change with some distribution in East Texas, Atlanta and I believe some New England markets over the past year, if they purchase the sports pack that includes the RedZone channel. That should have been done right away.
Having three networks and being able to broadcast every football game is crazy. In past years, games against FCS schools were not televised at all. This year is a different story with one less team for inventory, and the scramble to find games for the extra non-conference game. Last year when Utah was ranked 13th and hosting San Jose State the game was not broadcast at all. I get the television games are set up well in advanced and Comcast owns the media rights, but exceptions can be made. The way Comcast loves their money -- as well being pricks by trying to ruin Netflix by limiting bandwidth from Comcast internet subscribers -- to me it would make sense for local markets to PAY Comcast to broadcast the game on a local channel. They somewhat do this for basketball, but not for football. If The Mtn. is not going to pick up basketball games, then allow schools to purchase local rights for non-televised games would allow for fans who don't get The Mtn to see these games.
Kevan - Boise State:
Jeremy, I agree that all games need to be televised. Except maybe UNLV - New Mexico.
Your simple solution for ending this debate is what I imagine Mountain West employees use for their e-mail signatures: Get DirecTV.
If you cannot get DirecTV where you live, then move. If you cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars a month for all the channels, then sell your possessions in this order: vehicles, housewares, body organs, Gamecube, neighbor kids. If none of this is possible, stop being a fan of a Mountain West team.
Point being, it's not that simple.
The Boise State fan perspective is probably unique since we are coming from a conference that owned ESPN2 on Friday nights. Bronco fans are used to getting their games on basic cable or dish or free, local TV. We do not understand nor can we afford this Family Tier Package. We don't even like our families during football season!
At some point, you would hope that the Mountain West recognizes that their easy solution is not so easy for everyone. Or maybe they already have, and they just don't care. Wow, I feel so incredibly alone right now.
Sam - San Diego State:
I WILL NEVER SELL MY GAMECUBE!!! Also, I don’t want Direct TV because then I can’t watch the local Padres telecasts. Good thing the Padres TV deal ends this season.
Kevan - Boise State:
I know what you mean, Samuel. They will have to pry Mario Tennis from my cold, dead hands.
Also, Jeremy, that map is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.
Ben - TCU:
I tend to disagree with Kevan, which I am sensing is a trend that is going to continue all the way up through November. As a fan of not only TCU but the entire conference I think the TV contract is great for the fans of MWC teams. Almost every single game is nationally televised and on a Saturday, the way god intended.
I know Boise fans are having a hard time wrapping their head around the whole college football on Saturday's thing, which is due in large part to the stockholm's syndrome they've developed after being treated like a sideshow freak by the evil four-letter network all these years. While it is great to get the national exposure that a weekday telecast allows it is a bit of an illusion as to how great it really is for your program. Playing the marquee Thursday night game on ESPN is huge, but playing on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday every week does not help the national perception of your program. Because either consciously or sub-consciously the nation will think it makes you look "small time." Well that, and the blue turf. Also the weekday games that are played west of the Mississippi end so late on the East Coast that most of those viewers go to bed before the 4th quarter even starts. Playing on Saturday also allows for epic tailgating scenes which is really what being a college football fan is all about. It's not about sneaking out of work early on a Tuesday so you can get to the game in time so you can freeze your ass off on some metal bleachers. Playing on Saturdays also opens up the door to be hosts for ESPN College Football Gameday. TCU has played in 3 ESPN Gameday games and that never would've happened under ESPN because something like Utah-TCU was their Thursday night (at best) go to matchup. For the Boise fans worried that the new TV deal could ruin the momentum of your program I encourage you to look at TCU as a template, the Horned Frogs went from being ESPN's weekday staple to the MWC TV contract and thrived, Boise can and will do the same.
As far as the availability goes the number one solution is obviously to just get DirecTV. I have it and it is amazing. However I have also lived without DirecTV and if we didn't have a channel the game was on we just went to a friends house or a bar, pretty easy and painless. I would rather have a game on an obscure network than streamed over the internet, talk about small time. The greatest part about the TV contract that I think gets forgotten is that The Mtn. is dedicated to all things MWC. Not only do they cover almost every sport allowing me to see TCU sporting events like baseball and basketball that would never be televised on ESPN but they provide constant in-depth analysis on every team. All-22 might be the greatest college football show ever made and it is perfect for MWC football junkies like myself.
As a TCU fan I am actually dreading going from the MWC's TV contract to being ESPN's "Friday Night Special" once again and that should tell you something as I am a fan who has seen it from both angles.
Football drives this discussion, but one would think that with The Mtn. more of those sports would be televised. A lot of the men's basketball games are on TV and not many of the women's games are either. The only baseball games that get shown are typically from TCU who has their own production team. The demand is not high, but during April and May one would think that baseball and softball would be shown all the time. There are 30-minute recap shows of other minor sports, but why not do what the Big 10 network does and show nearly every sport and in high-definition. Live sports programming is at a premium, so why not show live volleyball, soccer, track and field or other sports to fill the void. Football content can only go so far, and the biggest mistake I think the league has is that they do not broadcast spring football games. That would be great to have and would work well with replaying during the summer. The league just needs to pony up some more money and broadcast these other sports, because people will watch. Just pay some students to film the minor sports and have no commentary, that will work.
Replay of old football games can only go so far.
Matt - Wyoming:
I'm glad that Ben brought up the quality of programming on the Mtn. I actually live in Washington State and hardly ever have a chance to watch the Mtn. unless I'm visiting my family in Colorado. Last time I watched it was right after Coach Schroyer was fired and they had some great dialog going on between several panelists. It was great to have the media actually discuss something very important about the team I follow. With ESPN we are lucky to get on the scroll at the bottom of the screen.
I'm a current Comcast customer and they've done some nice expansion with the distribution of the Mtn. on the East Coast. They're still neglecting much of the West and if I don't see the Mtn. added to my channel lineup by August then I will be switching to DirecTV. Actually I'll switch right now if they add in one of those miniature giraffes.
I'm curious if they could increase distribution and revenue by also carrying some basketball games from smaller conferences like the Big Sky and showed those on nights when there wasn't any live MWC games.
Power Poll Results
Ranking the Uniforms of the Mountain West
First place votes in parentheses. Basically everyone hates Wyoming's uniforms except for me who voted them #1 and Kevan who had them in the middle. The red and silver of New Mexico and UNLV did not impress our voters at all. The subtle stylings of Air Force took the top spot.
- Air Force (3)
- (tie) TCU
(tie) Colorado State (1)
- Boise State
- San Diego State
- Wyoming (1)
- New Mexico
The Homer Award goes to Jeremy who is apparently to good to vote in our polls now that Utah is no longer a member of the Mountain West.
To see how everyone voted check out this nifty spreadsheet
that was put together by Kevan.