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.