Boise State’s home football games will be marketed as a separate package to potential TV partners, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said Tuesday at the conference media days.
The Broncos also will continue to receive $1.8 million per year more TV revenue than the other 10 full members, Thompson said. The current deal, which expires in 2019-20, provides $1.1 million to those 10 schools and $2.9 million to Boise State.
Both provisions are an extension of the unusual arrangement the Broncos negotiated in late 2012 when they agreed to stay in the conference rather than leave for the Big East. ESPN has held the rights to the Broncos’ home games since 2013. The initial contract between Boise State and the Mountain West distributed TV money based on exposure, but that was simplified in recent years to a flat payout.
The conference hasn’t had any “official, formal discussions” about modifying the Boise State terms, Thompson said.
“There is not a single board member left that signed that agreement,” he said. “It is a contract. ... There’s been a little more hallway talk about trying to understand it, but nothing’s changed.”
According to Boise State’s contract, the Mountain West must ensure Boise State home football games “are not part of, nor granted under, any current or future MWC conference-wide television rights contract ... .”
Marketing Boise State’s games separately likely won’t increase the value of the TV contract, Thompson said, but it does provide Boise State flexibility if its preferences for broadcast partner or deal terms differ from the rest of the conference members.
The Mountain West is in the midst of exclusive negotiation periods with current partners CBS (and its CBS Sports Network) and ESPN, Thompson said. The new TV contract will take effect for the 2020-21 athletic season and likely will be finalized this fall, Thompson said. He expects to sign a shorter deal than his peers because of the rapidly changing nature of the broadcast and streaming markets.
The American Athletic Conference, for example, recently landed a 12-year deal.
“We’re going to go shorter,” Thompson said.
Boise State’s home games hit the market at an opportune time because of the way the Broncos have scheduled. If the next TV package covers six years, the Broncos can offer home games against Florida State, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Oregon State, Houston, Cincinnati, Oregon and BYU.
Concussion replays expand
The Mountain West has worked with DVSport and Colorado State to experiment with DVSport’s medical-replay system for the 2019 season at Colorado State home games, Associate Commissioner Jaime Hixson said. That will give the conference three sites with medical replay available — Air Force is entering its sixth season and Boise State its first. They both are working with Sport Scope.
Visiting teams will be encouraged to utilize the systems when they play at those sites, Hixson said. The hope is that the feedback from those experiences will lead to a “fully formed recommendation” for the conference, Hixson said.
The medical replays can be used to help trainers diagnose injuries and are particularly helpful with possible concussions.
Air quality changes
The Mountain West will have PurpleAir sensors at each of its football venues this season, improving the information available as schools decide whether to play in smoky air. Last year, the Boise State-Wyoming game in Laramie kicked off on time after air quality concerns during pregame, and the 2017 Boise State-Washington State game in Pullman was played at the end of a week when air quality was a major concern.
The conference also has changed its recommendation for when play should be stopped from more than 150 on the Air Quality Index to more than 200. Updated NCAA guidelines say outdoor activities should be shortened at an AQI of 150-plus, suggests serious consideration of rescheduling at 200-plus and suggests cancellation at 300-plus.
“Over 200, then that’s going to be a stoppage of play in most cases,” Hixson said.