New Mountain West TV Contract: More Money, Less ESPN For Boise State

Jan 10, 2020

The Mountain West Athletic Conference Thursday announced a new six-year television contract with FOX Sports and CBS Sports for its biggest football and basketball games.

 

Specific revenue sharing details were not disclosed, but the deal provides $270 million to the conference; roughly triple the annual income per school compared to the previous contract with ESPN and CBS Sports. The conference said additional revenue is possible from 'third-tier' rights fees – games still available to broadcast after CBS and FOX take their pick.

An even split of the revenue works out to about $4 million per year, per full-time conference school. As a football-only member, Hawai'i does not receive a full share – but the new contract allows up to four games each year to be broadcast from Honolulu.

The new contract will change how fans watch Boise State football games. As part of a deal to keep Boise State in the Mountain West in 2012, the conference allowed ESPN to buy exclusive rights to Boise State home football broadcasts. That carve-out generated an additional $1.8 million each year beyond the regular base media revenue share of $1.1 million for each school. The new contract does not include ESPN; instead, FOX Sports will pay extra to broadcast games from Bronco Stadium through the 2025 season. CBS Sports retains the rights to Boise State's conference road games.

This marks the inaugural arrangement between the league and FOX, which will show the conference’s football championship game. The CBS Sports Network remains the primary television rights holder.

Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said Boise State would continue to receive its additional revenue in the new contract, but media contracts beyond 2025-2026 would no longer be negotiated separately for the Broncos.

Kickoff times will change slightly, too. Both CBS Sports and FOX Sports have fixed broadcast times, known as windows, to 8 p.m. local time. Many games on ESPN in recent years started as late as 8:45 p.m. The new television contract specifies only Friday and Saturday games – another change from ESPN's schedule which had included games every day of the week except Sunday and Monday.

Across the conference, 23 football games will appear on CBS or CBSSN, with a minimum of three games annually on CBS. There will also be 10 additional games available for CBS. The network receives the first seven picks of conference-controlled games not played at Boise State.

FOX will show the football championship game on either FOX or FS1 and it will be played either on a Friday or Saturday. In addition, there will be 16 to 23 games broadcast on FOX, or its cable channels FS1 or FS2 during the regular season.

On the basketball side, CBS networks will show the Mountain West men’s basketball championship game on CBS. The game will be played on the NCAA Tournament selection weekend. There will also be 32 games on CBS or CBSSN. The network receives the first 12 picks of league-controlled games and then alternates with FOX.

For FOX Sports, it will show 16 to 32 regular season games with a minimum of 12 annually on FOX or FS1. The other contests will be featured on FS1 or FS2.

Viewership of Bronco football nationally will likely decrease with this new deal. Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman pointed out that last season's Boise State - Florida State football game on ESPNews had more viewers by itself than all but one game broadcast on FOX's FS1 channel during the 2019 season.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio