When Boise State decided to stay in the Mountain West they negotiated a nice deal that helped them earn more money, but the agreement also helped the league overall to earn more money, or at least most of it. The deal gives teams a bonus for paying on ESPN2, ESPN or any other over-the-air network, and even more if it is on a Saturday.
Boise State is guaranteed at least three games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC as part of their deal which allows ESPN to broadcast their home games.
Here is a quick review of how the television bonus structure works:
National Exposure Bonus System: Teams that play on a national broadcast - as defined as on a network of 90 million or more homes in the U.S.) will receive a $300,000 bonus. If the game is on a Saturday, the bonus is $500,000. That money will be distributed before per-member division of conference revenues.
These networks are defined in the agreement as: ESPN, ESPN2, ABC network "over the air," NBC network "over the air," CBS network "over the air" and Fox network "over the air" or their successors. NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network would not qualify.
Boise State says this is applicable to all games involving a Mountain West team - home/away, conference/non-conference. The Mountain West says it is only applicable to games that the league controls the TV rights for, so non-conference road games not be eligible.
The complete Mountain West television schedule was finalized last week, so we know who gets how much money from the league in these bonuses.
Seeing Boise State at the top is not a surprise since they have three guaranteed games, neither is seeing Fresno State who is undefeated. This system obviously rewards teams that are playing well, or good matchups. With that a few teams did get shutout of this bonus money. There were three teams that were left out of the bonus money: Hawaii, Colorado State and UNLV. First off, don't feel too bad for Hawaii as they still were able to keep their deal with Time Warner Oceanic and earned $2.3 million.
UNLV is obviously not happy with being shut out and interim UNLV Athletic Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy contacted ESPN and the Mountain West league office to lobby for their final game against San Diego State to be on either ESPN or ESPN2, but she came up short and the game will be on ESPNU. She said that she will want to discuss the bonus structure in the league's spring meetings. Had the bonus money been distributed equally each team would have taken home $558,333.
Here is how the bonus money will be distributed:
- Boise State: $1.6 million
- Fresno State: $1.3 million
- Wyoming: $1 million
- San Diego State: $800,000
- San Jose State: $600,000
- New Mexico: $500,000
- Air Force: $300,000
- Utah State: $300,000
- Nevada: $300,000
- Colorado State: $0
- Hawaii: $0
- UNLV: $0
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