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Per a recent Wyoming focused article on the new TV contract https://trib.com/sports/college/wyoming/football/wyoming-taking-good-with-the-bad-as-mountain-west-weighs/article_086e904d-bb4e-555a-aa68-f7bb22623cef.html, Wyoming AD Tom Burman indicates 'he would be “shocked” if a new contract wasn’t announced early this fall.' The news is that 'early Fall' is now when to anticipate an announcement rather than early in the year. In addition, the article indicates that there is interest from all four major media networks and others. ' “Everything is on the table from all the traditional outlets from CBS, ESPN, FOX, NBC, and then there’s all the digital options that are available now,” said Burman, who serves on a committee that will consider network offers and run them by the rest of the league’s athletic directors before recommendations are made to school presidents and chancellors.' I believe the next critical point in the saga of negotiating a new media contract will be whether BYU makes an announcement at their media day regarding a new contract. IF BYU gets a deal before the MW, it would probably remove a potential media partner from the long list of suitors the MW has.
EDIT: Per a report in the San Diego Union Tribune from April 24, the exclusive negotiation period BEGINS APRIL 30. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/aztecs/story/2019-04-23/sdsu-aztecs-mountain-west-tv-contract-craig-thompson "CBS Sports’ exclusive negotiating window for the next contract opens April 30, and then ESPN’s window after it, and then everyone else after that" Past reports indicate that the Mountain West is about to enter a period of time where their media rights holder, CBS Sports, will have an exclusive right to negotiate with the Mountain West regarding their upcoming tv deal. in 2017 the Mountain West turned down a renewal so CBS will need to offer some kind of increase to make the Mountain West consider signing a deal with them and not ESPN during the exclusive negotiating period. CBS likely won't make an offer that will cause the Mountain West to NOT talk to ESPN about a similar deal to what the American reached in terms of games on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU/ESPN+. However, there is a chance that CBS will make an offer that approaches the Mountain West's worth after the AAC deal (at least 3x increase) that might cause the Mountain West to actually consider staying with CBS rather than seeking an agreement with ESPN similar to the AAC deal. The only thing CBS can offer which might make the Mountain West consider going with that network rather than ESPN is over the air broadcasts. For example, both Boise State and Hawaii could play after SEC games and their specific rights packages could guarantee a certain number of OTA home games for those two teams who will be offered with specific rights separate from the overall MW media package. CBS might also be willing to only purchase tier 1/2 games and allow the Mountain West to retain the remaining rights so long as they aren't on an ESPN/ABC platform. The MW might be able to get a favorable deal with AT&T Sportsnet and some Prime Ticket RSNs with a CBS deal that wouldn't be possible with an ABC/ESPN deal requiring ESPN+. However, ESPN really does offer better exposure than CBS on their cable networks so long as a couple games are broadcast over the air on ABC. Just to refresh, the specifics from ESPN- AAC deal are below. CBS Sports currently has the rights to 19 'window 4' games so if ESPN acquired those rights in addition to the 22 games (6 boise and 16 other) the MW plays now on ESPN/ESPN2 and ESPNU so there are 41 regular season games to be shown. If ESPNU takes 13 Window 4 games like most people expect, there are still another 13 Window 4 games on ESPN/ESPN2 with the remaining fifteen split between Thursday, Friday and Saturday Window 2 and 3 games if the MW got an AAC -comparable deal with 40+ games on ESPN with 20 on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN using all that MW content along with its existing rights isn't impossible given that more than half of a 40 game football requirement are in Window 4 when the Pac 12 is the significantly more expensive and BYU only offers, at most, six games for ESPN to broadcast. https://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2019/03/espn-and-american-athletic-conference-reach-long-term-media-rights-extension/ Football: At least 40 regular season games per season, including at least 20 on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 which represents increased annual exposure across those networks versus the current agreement. A similar number of Thursday, Friday and Saturday games. Conference Championship game on ABC or ESPN each year. Men’s Basketball: At least 65 regular season games per season, with at least 25 across ESPN and ESPN2. Complete annual coverage of the Conference tournament across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, including the Conference Championship game on ESPN. Women’s Basketball: At least 13 regular season games per season, with a minimum of five on ESPN and ESPN2. Conference Tournament Semifinals on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU and the Conference Final on ESPN or ESPN2. More Sports: A minimum of five additional Olympic sports events from the The American per year will air on ESPN networks as well, with details to be determined at a later date. ESPN+ Thousands of Events, Including Regular Season and Conference Championship Events ESPN+ will carry over 11,000 events from The American throughout the duration of the agreement, including thousands of football and men’s and women’s basketball games. Football: Approximately 30-35 games per year in addition to those on ESPN’s linear networks Men’s Basketball: Approximately 135 conference-controlled games in addition to those on ESPN’s linear networks. Women’s Basketball: Approximately 160 conference-controlled games per year in addition to those on ESPN’s linear networks, plus the first round and quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Additional Sports: Hundreds of games each year across all multiple sports, including baseball, softball, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball. Conference Championships: Conference Championship action across multiple sports, including: men’s and women’s cross country, golf, indoor and outdoor track & field, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, baseball, lacrosse, rowing, softball, and volleyball. As part of the agreement, all ESPN+ events will be produced and branded as the American Digital Network, and accessible to fans of the Conference alongside live streamed events from ESPN networks and other related video in an American-branded landing page on the ESPN App, providing a one-stop destination for fans to view conference events. The content will also be served to fans who select The American Conference member schools among their favorites in the ESPN App. ESPN also is committed to enhancing The American’s brand during all of its TV Network telecasts.