The Mountain West is being proactive for the first time in a long time. It began on Friday with Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated hearing from sources that Boise State is likely to return to the Mountain West. ESPN's Andy Katz is reporting that the Mountain West and Boise State have had ongoing conversations about remaining. However, Katz said that there have been no talks with San Diego State.
The really big news then came late Friday night with CBS Sports reporting that the Mountain West and CBS have agreed to restructure their current television deal. This is just huge and is what I have been championing the Mountain West to do for some time in order to stay ahead of the Big East.
The length of the deal still continues as planned, which is 2015 for football and then 2015-16 for hoops. CBS still retains priority picks, but that amount is unknown; also, the Mountain West can sell a package of games to two additional networks.
A source from the CBS Sports article is quoted as saying, "The conference is as stable as it's ever been in terms of conference membership." Meaning that the earlier report of a new league might not be entirely accurate, or it was a dream of a pair of athletic directors.
The current deal with CBS pays the Mountain West schools approximately $12 million per year, and what I can gather from the article is that number will not change. Also, the amount of a new deal for the other rights is not immediately known. The Mountain West can now sell these other games to networks like NBC Sports, ESPN, Fox or even Turner.
My completely shot in the dark is that this other package has the potential to equal the CBS deal, this giving schools about $2 million for the next three years. I am basing that off of inflation since this current deal with CBS was made years ago, there are more Mountain West games to sell -- possibly 12 if San Diego State and Boise State return which could bring on a title game -- also there are more networks looking for live sports programming.
The amount of games that CBS can choose from is reportedly 15, so that does indeed leave a lot of inventory on the table for other networks to come in and still earn some high quality games.
This is a game changer as the Mountain West is doing whatever it can to stay about the Big East in terms of being that best league out of the group of five.
This little nugget was of interest if Boise State decides to stay in the Mountain West:
If Boise decided to re-commit to the MWC, it would trigger a membership clause to renegotiate new rights fees but probably wouldn't change the games-selection structure. The MWC will be able to syndicate games via a regional network, a practice common in other leagues, and will also launch a digital network.
A digital network is interesting, not sure how that would work, maybe a broader way to sell third-tier rights which could include pay-per-view for some games.
Again, this is a huge deal, and one that the Mountain West had to made to try to keep Boise State. There is possibly the slight possibility that CBS agreed to this on the off chance that Houston and SMU could join the league to give the Mountain West 14 teams.