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  1. Here is a link to a longish Orlando Sentinel article where Aresco discusses at length where the AAC is prior to entering into negotiations with ESPN. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/ucf-knights/os-sp-aac-mike-aresco-0129-story.html “I can’t say too much about it other than our negotiating period is just days away and we’ll be engaging and obviously we love our relationship with ESPN and we’ll see where that goes.” “I think it's very important to our conference to play those Friday games. It’s really critical to the survival of our conference as a major TV entity. We have a great product on Saturdays, too. We have great Thursday games. Fridays are important and they're more valuable than Thursdays because you don’t have the NFL sitting there.” The important thing to know is that an exclusive negotiating window exists in the AAC's tv contract with ESPN that ends at the end of February. The MW anticipates beginning it's media rights discussions in April after the AAC either renews its contract with ESPN or hits the open market where Fox, Comcast/NBC and AT&T can all make offers to the AAC. Ideally, the AAC sets the floor of the market for the Mountain West's own rights while the Pac 12 contract is the ceiling. Personally, I expect the AAC and the MW both to see an increase due to the escalating value of live sports media rights. Exactly how much and who is paying the MW and AAC after 2020 are the big deals. I haven't seen much about this topic yet. I presume this is a 'no news is good news' situation because both parties are talking to each other and very little is leaking. Once leaks start happening, we'll know that one side isn't happy with the progress of negotiations and that is far more likely to be the AAC side than the ESPN side. Also, the basis for the MW's TV value has a lot more to do with the value/quality of the Pac 12 than what the AAC is worth. It is a major mistake to think that the AAC/MW are competing for TV dollars in the same way that the two leagues compete for a New Year's Six bowl spot because the AAC's value to ESPN has a lot more to do with comparing that league to the ACC and the SEC rather than to the MW. Finally, I think ESPN has a particularly strong interest in obtaining the MW's exclusive rights because the Pac 12 Network is a competitor to ESPN and the MW is the only alternative with comparable inventory for Window 4 national broadcasts (east coast prime time) to the Pac 12, and because the MW hosts four bowl games at conference member stadiums (After 2020, Hawaii, San Diego, New Mexico and Boise are the likely sites to host bowl games along with games in Tempe and Tucson plus a Texas game - just a guess) .
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