The Mountain West has reached an agreement to restructure its television deal with CBS, multiple conference sources told CBSSports.com. The deal could allow the conference to become the dominant non-BCS league going forward in the playoff era.
That would put the future of the Big East football schools as a conference in further question and force Big East linchpin Boise State to make almost an immediate choice on its conference future.
The new deal does not lengthen the agreement -- which expires with the 2015-16 academic year -- but allows the MWC more leeway in earning power. CBS will continue as the primary rightsholder and have priority picks but the Mountain West will have the right to sell packages of games to two additional networks. The number of priority picks is not known. After that, the new rightsholder and CBS will alternate picks when selecting games.
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The games could be licensed to the likes of NBC Sports Network, Fox, Turner and ESPN.
“The conference is as stable as it's ever been in terms of conference membership,” a conference source said.
Boise State clearly now has to make a decision where its football future lies. The MWC is now a known quantity through the 2015 football season while Boise is due to join the Big East on July 1. CBSSports.com reported earlier that the Big East football schools left after the Catholic 7 split off may be worth only $40 million per year. The 10-team MWC has three years left on a deal with CBS that pays it $12 million per season. The potential of the new restructuring was not immediately known Friday night.
CBSSports.com reported Thursday that the Big East had reached out to UNLV and Fresno State. However, it seems the Mountain West has kept its 10 teams in the fold. Now the next move is Boise's. The Broncos play in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday against Washington. There were indications Friday that Boise State president Bob Kustra may make a statement before then on Boise's future.
If Boise decided to re-commit to the MWC, it would trigger a membership clause to renegotiate new rights fees but probably wouldn't change the games-selection structure. The MWC will be able to syndicate games via a regional network, a practice common in other leagues, and will also launch a digital network.
Boise announced it was joining the Big East in 2013 based on projections of $8 million-$10 million per year in revenue. That figure proved to be inflated and forces Boise into a quick decision. The MWC already has decided on the football schedule it will submit to television partners in January.
The MWC restructuring was a result of CBS shutting down the The Mtn. Network. The conference-centric network shut down on May 31. The restructuring apparently is a “make good” to the conference after the network folded, according to a source.