The Mountain West announced its new media rights deal that will begin for the 2020-21 athletic season. MW commissioner Craig Thompson; Dan Weinberg, CBS Sports Executive Vice President of Programming; and Mark Silverman, FOX Sports President, National Networks were among those who spoke on a conference call Thursday afternoon to announce the deal. Here are the initial details. I'll update this story as more information comes in.
Media right partners
CBS will remain the Mountain West's primary partner with Fox replacing ESPN as the conference's secondary partner. The MW will continue to work with ESPN on four bowl games a season, but regular-season football and basketball games will be on CBS, CBS Sports, CBS All-Access, Fox, FS1 and FS2. The MW's third tier media rights are still being negotiated. AT&T SportsNet and Stadium broadcast MW games under the old contract.
Length of contract
The MW's new media rights deal begins in 2020-21 (officially it starts July 1, 2020) and runs for six seasons. Thompson said the conference was steadfast in not wanting to "go more than 10 years just to inflate numbers.” The American Athletic Conference, which is the MW's competitor for the top Group of 5 conference, recently signed a 12-year deal with ESPN worth $1 billion. The MW didn't want to lock into a deal longer than six years given the changing landscape of media.
The deal is worth $270 million over those six years, although the MW declined to break down the numbers beyond that. If the revenue is split evenly by year, the conference would get $45 million per season to distribute. The old deal paid schools roughly $1.1 million a season with Boise State getting an additional $1.8 million to reach $2.9 million per season. Boise State will continue to get a larger cut of the contract while Hawaii, a football-only member of the MW, will keep its local pay-per-view rights while giving four games to the MW package. If Boise State continues to get its $1.8 million bonus annually (it's not exactly clear if that's the case or if the school will get more), the Broncos would get around $5.7 million a year and the other full MW members around $3.9 million annually. These figures depend on Hawaii's exact cut and any additional revenue made with the third-tier rights. Hawaii was previously earning $2.3 million annually from its local rights, Thompson said.
The Boise State piece
Boise State's home games were again negotiated as a separate package, although this is the last time that will be the case, Thompson said. The Broncos' home football games will move from ESPN to Fox with CBS getting rights on Boise State's road games. Silverman said Fox is working to make the 2020 Boise State-Florida State game in Boise a "Big Noon" kickoff with Fox bringing its talent to Boise for the game on Sept. 19. The MW's football championship game also will be aired on a Fox network. It was most recently aired on ESPN's family of networks.
Thompson said late kickoffs will remain part of the MW landscape, although he said there won't be any kickoffs later than 8 p.m. local time. Silverman said one of the MW's appeals was the ability to have late kickoffs, but that was not the sole thing that made the conference appealing. "We do have Pac-12 as well, so we have more teams in the Pacific time zone," Silverman said while arguing there could be fewer late kickoffs than the MW was accustomed to in its previous media rights deal. Under the previous deal, games could start as late as 8:35 p.m. local time.
The deal calls for 23 football games a season on CBS or CBS Sports Network. A minimum of three games must be on CBS. An additional 10 can be selected for CBS, CBSSN or CBS All-Access. A maximum of five games can be played on Friday, not including special dates. CBS gets the first seven picks of MW-controlled games then alternating selection with Fox. Annually, 16 to 23 games will be on Fox Networks. A minimum of seven games must be on Fox or FS1. A maximum of five games can be played on Friday, not including special dates. A maximum of four Hawaii games may be selected collectively by the two networks each year. The football championship game will be on Fox or FS1.
Men's basketball games
The deal calls for 32 men's basketball games a season on CBS or CBS Sports Network. A minimum of two games must be on CBS. The MW Tournament quarterfinal and semifinal games will be on CBSSN with the championship game on CBS. An additional 10 can be selected for CBS, CBSSN or CBS All-Access. CBS gets the first 12 picks of MW-controlled games then alternating selection with Fox. Annually, 16 to 23 games will be on Fox Networks. A minimum of 12 games must be on Fox or FS1. Between the two partners, MW men’s basketball windows are anticipated to include most nights of the week (six rather than five in the previous deal).