MWC Debating if TV Revenue and National Exposure Outweigh Late Kickoffs and Empty Stadiums


The Mountain West Conference has television contracts with ESPN (DIS) and CBS Sports (CBS) that are set to expire following the 2019-2020 academic year. In preparation for the next round of media rights negotiations, athletic directors around the conference have begun to debate if television revenue ($100 million over 7 years) and national exposure outweigh the drawbacks of late kickoff times and empty stadiums. At least one A.D. (Tom Burman, Wyoming) does not think the benefits outweigh the costs saying, “the money is not so great ($1.1 million/year per school) that we are willing to just play game times whenever TV calls”. The conference is currently performing studies to determine how television scheduling impacts game day revenue sources (beyond just ticket sales).

Howie Long-Short: Mountain West football games are valuable to the broadcast networks because they air in valuable late-night time slots. There is no value to a Mountain West game that’s scheduled opposite P5 games. Filling the stadium is nice, but even Boise AD Curt Apsey acknowledged “it would be very difficult for us to give up the TV money and make it up in ticket sales”. Mountain West games will be on television for the foreseeable future. CFB is an arms race and there is no chance that the Mountain West (or any other conference) is leaving television revenue on the table.

Fan Marino: The Pac-12 Conference has similar issues, albeit with far more lucrative television contracts ($28 million/school in ’16). ESPN slots their weekly Pac-12 game at 10:30p or 10:45p EST on Saturday evenings. When you combine those late start times with the games that air on the Pac-12 Network, which DirecTV (T) does not carry; it’s likely that east coast Heisman voters are unable to watch most of the conference’s games. That’s too bad. Arizona QB Khalil Tate (and Bryce Love) deserves to be in NYC. Here’s to hoping they manage to catch a game or two before the ballots are submitted.

Mountain West weighs TV money versus controlling game times

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