Conference Expansion: Looking at the television markets between Big East, Mountain West

Chung Sung-Jun

We take a look at the television markets between the new Big East and Mountain West.

The argument has been fierce on both sides of the fence about if Boise State and San Diego State should stay in the Mountain West or go to the Big East. We know money is king, and the contract for the Big East will still likely be better than the Mountain West until the make a new television deal. Side note: Craig Thompson get on that.

This is the first of two posts about these numbers, this one is television market size is what this post is about. The next post will be about actual on the field performance.

Below are the TV market sizes of the respective leagues, because as mentioned this carries a lot of weight in media rights contract negotiations. Also, only football schools are listed, because the basketball teams do not add all that much to the media rights negotiations.

Mountain West Big East
6. San Jose State - San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose 5. SMU - Dallas/Fort Worth
28. San Diego State - San Diego 10. Houston
42. UNLV - Las Vegas 13. South Florida - Tampa-St. Petersburg
44. New Mexico - Albuquerque-Santa Fe 19. Central Florida - Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne
55. Fresno State - Fresno-Visalia 28. San Diego State - San Diego
72. Hawaii - Honolulu 30. Connecticut - Hartford-New Haven
91. Air Force - Colorado Springs-Pueblo 34. Cincinnati
N/A. Boise State 48. Memphis
N/A. Colorado State 53. Tulane - New Orleans
N/A. Wyoming N/A. East Carolina
N/A. Utah State N/A. Boise State - Boise
N/A. Nevada N/A. Navy - Annapolis

In the television market area, the new Big East would be better off for landing a better media rights deal. However, clarification is needed to make things more clear. SMU and Houston have little to no share in their respective cities, Dallas is a pro sports town, Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns, TCU Horned Frogs and Texas A&M Aggies before one even thinks about SMU.

Same thing can be said for the University of Houston. Pro sports teams followed by the large state schools get more attention paid to from fans. So, while they are both top 10 markets, they don't really own any of their respective markets.

The same can be said in the Mountain West about San Jose State, who are lumped in with the San Francisco and Oakland markets. However, the opposite can be said for Air Force and Colorado State. Colorado Springs is barely a top-100 market, and Fort Collins is not there, but the schools do grab somewhat from Denver which is market No. 18, not a lot but there is a little bit of a pull from there.

However it is clear that the Big East has a huge advantage over the Mountain West in market sizes. But as mentioned about Houston and Dallas, the only way those cities would help the Big East is if they start their own television network such as the Big Ten Network.

With a dedicated channel, there will be subscribers who pay for the channel but never watch, and that money is all the same for the Big East. However, if the Big East has a deal with CBS Sports, ESPN or whoever; that will not give a bump in the money to the new schools.

The Big East deal will be worth more, but not so sure it will be anything worth what the league thought just a few months ago where the base line seemed to be about $5 million per year.

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