Boise State football guaranteed three national TV bonus games

By Brian Murphy
bmurphy@idahostatesman.com

The Boise State football team will play at least three national TV bonus games through the 2019 football season, as designated by the Mountain West, under terms of the league’s new television contract with ESPN announced by both parties Wednesday.

Three Boise State home games will be on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC, thus meeting the criteria for the Mountain West’s bonus. The league will pay $300,000 for conference-controlled games that air on designated national networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and ESPN2). There is an additional $200,000 payment for Saturday games on those networks.

Boise State is assured of collecting $900,000 in bonuses — with the potential for much more.

Boise State’s other home games can be aired on any of ESPN’s family of networks, including ESPNU, ESPNews or ESPN3. Games on those outlets would not be eligible for the payment bonus. No more than two Boise State games per year can be on ESPN3, which is web-based.

Also, ESPN and CBS Sports Network have agreed to possibly swap one game per year. Thus, a conference road game might be on ESPN in exchange for a home game on CBS Sports Network. Boise State can only be required to play a maximum of three non-Saturday games per season.

Under terms of the deal, ESPN will televise up to 16 Mountain West football games in addition to the Boise State home games on its family of networks. ESPN also has rights to up to 31 conference-controlled men’s basketball games annually. The agreement runs through the 2019-20 seasons, syncing up with the Mountain West’s current primary rights agreement with CBS Sports Network.

Terms of the deal were not released, but ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that the total of the two deals will be about $18 million annually. Those numbers are accurate, according to Statesman sources.

Conference officials expect to pay about $6 million per year in national TV bonuses. That would leave $12 million to be distributed to schools, roughly $1 million per school.

The two partners will broadcast up to 44 football and 56 men’s basketball games each year.

“The Mountain West and its member institutions are very pleased to be re-establishing a television partnership with ESPN,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson. “We had a very successful relationship during the first years of the Conference and have stayed connected over the years through our bowl agreements and other interactions. This new agreement is mutually beneficial and offers great promise for the seasons ahead.”

As part of the Broncos’ agreement to remain in the Mountain West, the conference agreed to sell Boise State home football games as part of a secondary television package. The Mountain West’s primary television partner is CBS Sports Network. CBS Sports Network will have rights to Boise State’s road conference games.

“It is unique, but we’re a unique program,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “I also don’t think it’s all just about Boise State. We’re going to play somebody in our league and they’re going to get exposure, too. It’s good for our conference.”

Exposure on ESPN helped fuel the Broncos’ rise over the last decade-plus. Boise State is 40-5 in regular-season ESPN (or ESPN2 or ABC) games since 2003.

“I think a combination that really took us to the next level was 1) being on ESPN and 2) playing well on ESPN,” Petersen said. “If we didn’t play well, we wouldn’t have been on there as much. And there were times that we were and if we hadn’t played well, it doesn’t mean as much.”

Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said the bonus will not apply to non-league-controlled games, such as Boise State’s 2013 road games at Washington and BYU. The Mountain West cannot sell those games.

The Mountain West will also launch a digital network, allowing fans to watch games on the web, in addition to its deals with CBS Sports Network and ESPN. The league could also sell games to regional networks, such as ROOT or Altitude.

• The Mountain West is negotiating with CBS Sports Network for the rights to the inaugural Mountain West championship game in 2013. The league will have 12 members and two six-team divisions in 2013. Any rights’ fee from the championship game will be in addition to the current deals.

• CBS Sports Network will retain the rights to the Mountain West men’s basketball tournament.

• Thompson said the league considered flipping the national TV bonuses for non-Saturday games (currently $300,000) and Saturday games (currently $500,000) because of the logistical problems associated with playing on a weekday. But the league opted to keep the bonus structure the same.

Boise State release

Boise State University and the Mountain West Conference announced today an agreement that will secure ESPN as the television rights holder for home Bronco football games.

In the seven-year agreement, a minimum of three Boise State home games per year must be televised nationally on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC, with the possibility of all Boise State home games being nationally-televised.

When Boise State announced on Dec. 31, 2012, that it would remain in the Mountain West, a key factor was the agreement with the league that ensured Boise State’s home football games would be offered separately to the media by the Mountain West Conference in order to fully realize their value to the conference and Boise State.

While CBS will continue as the primary rights holder of Mountain West games and have the first selection of men’s basketball and football games other than Bronco home football games, today’s announcement of the new ESPN agreement will significantly increase media revenues and national exposure for Boise State and the league.

Under the new agreement Boise State will be paid a bonus of $300,000 per game broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, with an additional $200,000 for a Saturday game. Boise State can only be required to play a maximum of three non-Saturday games per season. This means a minimum of $900,000 in annual media bonus revenue for the Broncos. The amount could be higher than the $900,000 minimum if there are more national broadcasts from Bronco Stadium than the three required, or if those broadcasts are aired on Saturdays.

“I know I speak on behalf of Coach Petersen and Bronco Nation in saying we are thrilled that ESPN secured the rights to our home games. ESPN offers unparalleled national exposure with its broadcasts,” Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle stated. “While the back-and-forth football conference membership was taxing on everyone involved, including our fans, this agreement with ESPN and the Mountain West will prove it was well worth the effort. We appreciate the leadership of Dr. Kustra and Vice-President Kevin Satterlee who played vital roles in the negotiations on conference realignment.”

Following the three required national television broadcasts, the remaining home games could be broadcast on any channel in the ESPN family, but no more than two Boise State games per year may be on ESPN3, a web-based platform.

Included in this unique agreement, ESPN and CBS have agreed to a potential swap of games. While ESPN owns all the Bronco home games, and CBS the Bronco conference road games, the two networks have agreed to possibly swap one game per year. Thus, a conference road game might be on ESPN in exchange for a home game on CBS.

Guaranteeing Boise State’s home games on ESPN is already appearing to provide an incentive for other teams to schedule the Broncos. In the past month Boise State has announced home-and-home series with the University of Virginia (2015 & 2017) and Florida State University (2019 and 2020), the first time schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) have agreed to play regular season games at Bronco Stadium.

ESPN release

ESPN, Inc., has reached an agreement in principle with the Mountain West for rights to televise select conference football and basketball games from 2013-14 through the 2019-20 season. ESPN will acquire exclusive worldwide rights to televise up to 16 Mountain West football games plus every Boise State home game as well as up to 31 conference-controlled men’s basketball games annually. ESPN will have the right to make every game available to video subscribers via WatchESPN.

As part of the deal, ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC will televise a minimum of three Boise State football home games nationally. The Broncos’ remaining home contests will either be made available on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN3 or ABC. Up to 16 conference-controlled football games per season will be available on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ABC or ESPN3.

For men’s basketball, up to 31 conference-controlled games will air on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS or ESPN3.

In 2012, ESPN televised four MW football games through a sublicense agreement. It marked the first time ESPN had televised Mountain West games from a member institution’s home venue since 2005. ESPN had a regular schedule of conference member home games from the league’s inception in 1999 to 2005 and televised BYU vs. TCU at Cowboys Stadium on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.

“It’s great to be back in business with the Mountain West. They are a deep, high quality and competitive conference,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president of college sports. “We look forward to once again showcasing the league’s institutions, student-athletes and compelling storylines across multiple sports and ESPN platforms.”

“The Mountain West and its member institutions are very pleased to be re-establishing a television partnership with ESPN,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson. “We had a very successful relationship during the first years of the Conference and have stayed connected over the years through our bowl agreements and other interactions. This new agreement is mutually beneficial and offers great promise for the seasons ahead.”

Mountain West Signs National Television Deal with ESPN

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Mountain West Conference announced it has reached agreement with ESPN to be a national television rights holder for Conference-controlled football and men’s basketball games. The agreement, which begins with the 2013-14 season, was announced by Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president, college sports and Craig Thompson, MW Commissioner. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

CBS Sports Network remains the primary rights holder for the Mountain West. As part of this new agreement, CBS Sports Network and ESPN will alternate game selections (after initial picks by CBSSN) in football and men’s basketball with ESPN controlling the rights to Boise State home football games. CBS Sports Network retains the rights to Bronco road football contests.

“The Mountain West looks forward to rejoining the ESPN networks beginning with our 15th season this fall,” said MW Commissioner Craig Thompson. “Coupled with CBS Sports Network, we anticipate tremendous national exposure over several outlets as the league continues its growth and development.”

“The Mountain West Conference and its member schools are committed to competitive excellence in intercollegiate athletics, and we think the strength of our programs on the courts and fields reflect this commitment,” said Dr. Anthony A. Frank, Chair of the MW Board of Directors and President, Colorado State University. “We’re also committed to providing our student-athletes, alumni and fans national access to our competitions, and we believe this agreement with ESPN is a further step in ensuring this availability and increasing our visibility to fans of college athletics nation-wide.”

Between the two networks, up to 44 football and 56 men’s basketball games will be televised annually on their various platforms. The CBS Sports Network and ESPN agreements are scheduled to run concurrently through 2019-20.

The Mountain West is in the process of negotiating an agreement for the inaugural MW Football Championship Game with CBS Sports Network, and has retained rights to sell additional packages on the MW Digital Network and to regional/local carriers.

Sports columnist Brian Murphy writes about all sports in the Treasure Valley with a concentration on Boise State football and men's basketball. Murph has been with the Statesman since 2005. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphsTurph.

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