Saturday, June 9, 2012

Loss of 'The Mtn' - Good or Bad?

The Mtn is dead, what's next for UNLV  broadcast?

All of the headaches that basketball fans are experiencing right now are as of a result of football's maddening quest for automatic bowl qualifiers and getting a piece of the better part of money inequities from television deals. As a UNLV Basketball fan, two problems - the MWC has decided (or has it) to combine with Conference USA, and the flagship sports network of the MWC, The Mtn, has pulled the plug as of May 31, 2012. The LVRJ has recently written a decent breakdown of what happened, and where we are now. But, this is an important enough issue to at least delve a little further and push things to their logical end. That's the beauty of running a fan-based website - I can do that.

The LVRJ article explained a couple things that I didn't know. First, the demise of  the MWC as we know it has little to do with the demise of The Mtn. Article explains that the network was losing money, and it was a financial decision. Second, although I thought that the MWC commissioners would have had something lined up when the decision to pull the plug was made - not so, they are going to make it up as they go along this season, and work towards a solid TV deal for next season. Third, UNLV will lose $400,000 that would have been paid from The Mtn, but now has the opportunity to sell the rights to individual games, potentially to the highest bidder.


When I first heard that they were shutting down The Mtn, I was kind of happy. Provided that the conference or UNLV had something bigger and better lined up (something to rectify the disparity between the MWC and the Pac-12 TV deals) losing the hokey The Mtn, seemed like no big deal, maybe even a good thing. Then, initially after I read the LVRJ article cited above, I was a bit scarred. Without The Mtn, there would be no dedicated network to televise MWC games. But then I got to thinking --- I don't recall very many UNLV basketball games being featured on The Mtn last season anyhow. Let's see if that's in fact true.

The Runnin' Rebels played 35 games last year that counted towards our record, this includes the second round loss in the NCAA tournament. Of those 35 games, the Rebels were televised 26 times (*one time was Of those 26 television appearances, here's the breakdown:

CBS Networks: 8
NBC Networks: 3
The Mtn: 9
Other: 4
ESPN Networks: 2

So, even with The Mtn in existence, UNLV Basketball was still only televised 74% of the time. Of those television appearances, The Mtn carried UNLV more than any other media source, but still accounted for only 34% of games televised. Taking the total number of games played into account, The Mtn televised only 25.7% of UNLV basketball games played last season. These are not encouraging statistics, and besides the low production value and sporadic availability of high definition programming, coupled with the major difficulty in obtaining the channel "The Mtn" nationally, I now remember why I hated The Mtn.

So, when it is said that UNLV has to hodgepodge together sales of television rights for certain games this coming season - it looks more like this is par for the course. Most of the time last season, games were hodgepodged out, so much so that the exhaustive list of where one could view a UNLV game included: CBS, CBS Sports, NBS Sports, ESPN, ESPN3, TruTV, Big10 Network, Cox 96, CBS Local Channel 8, and of course, The Mtn. The place where you would watch the Rebels changed so many times, a few times had the channel wrong as far as advertising the game.

Is this a shift from the previous season? Of the 33 games played during the 2010-11 season, 25 were televised. Of those 25 appearances, here's the breakdown:

Versus (remember them?): 4
ESPN Networks: 4
The Mtn: 11
CBS Networks: 5
TBS: 1

So during that season, The Mtn overwhelmingly covered Runnin' Rebels basketball as compared to other sources. Overall, they covered 44% of televised games, and were responsible for televising 33% of all possible games. Keep in mind though, as far as quality - The Mtn was not in High Definition last year, so watching a game on The Mtn was like watching an old VHS tape (in my opinion).

'You're So Money'

Given, I have no idea what a college can get paid for the rights to the their games - it really depends on ad revenue and the equasion of how much money a station can make off televising a certain game. I do know generally how much a game costs to televise, it was said last year (if I recall correctly) that it was 20k for non-HD broadcast, and 40k for HD. Hypothetically, if UNLV made 400k last year (let's totally write off UNLV football and other sports for the sake of argument) and pretending that The Mtn hosted every televised game, that's UNLV getting paid roughly $15k per televised game. Know, you know that figure is much lower because in actuality many UNLV football games and other NCAA sports are televised, so that sucks. Again speculating, maybe the hodgepodge last season occurred because the Rebels were more-often-than-not nationally ranked, and were a pretty awesome team for most of the season. So maybe, given the choice between broadcasting your games on The Mtn for a pittance, or looking for someone to 'show me the money', UNLV has already been eating at that troth. So it may be good, and they may have it figured out even though I and many fans are not at all comfortable with the fact that they are making it up as they go as far as televising our Runnin' Rebels. Thank God I bought Season Tickets this coming season,.

The short of it is, based upon the fact that this is not really new territory, and they appear to only be finding a home for 9-11 games (hopefully more), I'm not concerned if the athletic administration isn't concerned. Coach Rice is putting a remarkable product on the court this year, likely a preseason top-10 product (or at least close). Our team's games should sell high, provided the team lives up to expectations. So, only time will tell whether this is a good thing or bad, but chances are it is a very good thing.

PS: A word of warning. Over the years there has been a proliferation of internet sites and advertisements claiming to have a streaming feed to every NCAA game, including the one you happen to be looking to watch. Don't buy in - they are scams. They do not have the game you are looking for. If the game you want to watch is online streaming, it will be available in three places 1) your teams website, 2) opponents website, 3) Don't waste your money or time chasing windmills.

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