We’ve been chronicling how Pac-12 coaches have been complaining about late-night starts to accommodate the conference’s television partners. Well, you can add one more conference that is wondering if the late-night starts are worth it. The Mountain West Conference is looking into its next TV contract. Its current deal with CBS Sports Network and ESPN expires in three years.

That TV contract pays the conference over $100 million during a seven-year span. In addition to putting games on television, the Mountain West has games streamed on Facebook, but that does not pay any money.

The Associated Press reports that schools are wondering if the money to play late-night games just for television is worth the trouble:

“The issue is for us, the money is not so great that, at least in my opinion, that we are willing to just play game times whenever TV calls,” Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman said earlier this season. “That’s the challenges. If you want money from ESPN or CBS we’re going to have to play in that late window. That’s kind of what we bring them. Inventory late at night or sometimes off Saturday.”

Mountain West schools make $1.1 million each, but Boise State gets an additional $1.8 million. That was due to the Broncos being wooed by the Big East. To keep the school in the Mountain West, the conference agreed to a deal that gave Boise State more money and ESPN appearances.

Conference commissioner Craig Thompson said the league is looking at whether the scheduling of late-night games benefits the schools.

“It’s not priceless, but what is the value of a national television game for recruiting purposes?” Thompson said. “The national exposure that those games generate is worth something. They’re in roughly a quarter of a million homes. What does that mean? Is that one replacement running back that you desperately need that lives in Georgia watching that game and going, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to one of those Mountain West schools. I love their style of play. I don’t know. What are we missing? What are we gaining?”

So the Mountain West is thinking about what its next move will be. It has three years to decide whether the late-night games are worth the money. So Thompson is weighing his options. If the Mountain West wants fewer late-night games, thatwill drive its revenue from television down.

Conference executives have a lot of thinking to do in the next three years.

[Associated Press]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

  • BK

    Good move, Mountain West. Because I’m sure a lot of people would rather watch Nevada/SJ State at 3:30 instead of the best Big 10/Big 12/SEC game at the same time. If they thought nobody was watching now, change time slots and see what will happen.

    • LuchaVa

      Not if they are catering their fanbase. Lets be honest other than students/staff/alumni at MW schools the only other people watching are degenerate gamblers looking for action at the end of the night. MW fans would spring 9.99 a month for single user access to MW sports. They can sell off the 3 to 4 feature match ups ala carte to ESPN/FOX/NBC.

      • BK

        You really think someone is going to pay 9.99 a month to watch MW games? Take a look at the crowds at these games. San Jose State played their opening game at 3:30, and the stadium was 3/4 empty. Can’t use the start time excuse there.

        Students don’t even want to attend these games…but are going to pay 9.99 to watch them on their phone? They won’t just sell off the feature matchups, because there’s not enough revenue to be made there, and the scheduling will remain the same.

        • LuchaVa

          They would need an average of 26k subscribers per school during the Football/Basketball Season. They could cut deals with Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Spring and Summer months would be gravy if they held on to any subs. The key is only allowing a single user. Funny you use SJS as an example since they are 1-10 this year and were not projected to be very good. Im sure attendance at Illinois, N Carolina, Kansa, Oregon State, Vandy, and other loser schools is also just as bad. As for selling off individual games, youre telling me ESPN/Fox/NBC/CBS isnt looking for content on their sports networks 10PM EST / 7 PM PST? They will cherry pick games and MW will sell to the highest bidder of the 4. Maybe they dont get as much as they do from ESPN but sales at the gate might offset the losses.

          • eddie

            i think nbc sports and cbs sports could air these games maybe if possbile

  • Dale Moog

    The problem is that they need to be on when less games are on. That means they need to play at 10 pm EST. My biggest problem would be the 8:45 pm local starts in the MNT I mean the late night games should be played in San Diego, SJ Las Vegas, Fresno, Reno and Hawaii. They should NEVER play games that start after 8pm local in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, New Mexico or Wyoming They have TV deals with CBS, ESPN, Stadium(a streaming site) and local deals with AT&T Sports Networks. They should play more afternoon games. but ESPN pays so much more to the ACC,SEC and Big10 That they can not move that inventory away. So either drop ESPN or play more night games.

  • eddie

    it could air nbc sports and cbs sports and espn and turner sports to bid mtn sports. i think nbc sports and cbs sports get win the rights or turner and espn ?

  • sportsfan365

    Used to go to Air Force games, but not anymore. These clowns are catering to the Benjamins, not their fans.

  • Matt

    Many timeslots open on FS2. Will FOX get that network going. I do enjoy Air Force. Their attendance gets killed on the cold local 8:15pm time starts.

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