Should Mountain West Schools Be Considering Cutting the TV Cord?

March 13th, 2017 | by Francis Giknis
Should Mountain West Schools Be Considering Cutting the TV Cord?

Mountain West

This past week, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson met with presidents and ADs from his conference, in part to discuss the late start times of Mountain West athletics. The example cited most recently was the 9:30pm start to Friday night’s conference semifinal men’s basketball game. The tight scheduling was also noted by Thompson, who observed the final the following day tipped-off at 3pm, a grueling 15-hour turnaround for these student-athletes.

Thompson is so irritated with the late starts and falling attendance numbers that he has suggested a drastic course of action: cutting the TV cord and shifting to purely digital distribution of Mountain West games. This would hurt schools financially, but would allow them to make their own schedules that might encourage attendance and aid student-athletes.

I wondered just how substantial the late-start problem was in the Mountain West and wanted to see if Thompson was making much ado about nothing or if he truly had a grievance. I calculated the average start times of all Mountain West football home games to see how bad the situation really is. Here are the results:

School Average Home Start (Local Time)
Air Force 1:49pm
Boise State 8:02pm
Fresno State 3:30pm
Colorado State 5pm
Nevada 5:25pm
UNLV 4:25pm
New Mexico 6:35pm
SDSU 6:20pm
San Jose State 5:30pm
Utah State 7:20pm
Wyoming 4:28PM
Hawaii 5pm
Average Mtn. West Start Time: 5:17pm


5:17pm did seem a little late to be the average time for a conference to start its home football games (Boise State hasn’t had a home game in the daytime since 2013!), so I decided to compare it to a power five conference on the East Coast. Below are the home football games for the ACC:

School Average Home Start (Local Time)
Boston College 1:50pm
Clemson 2:43pm
Duke 4:05pm
FSU 5:34pm
GT 1:43pm
Louisville 3:30pm
Miami 4:56pm
UNC 2:52pm
NC State 2:55pm
Notre Dame 4:39pm
Pitt 2:52pm
Syracuse 3:45pm
UVA 1:35pm
VA Tech 2:30pm
Wake Forest 5:17pm
Average ACC Start Time: 3:23pm


When looking at those start times side-by-side, perhaps Thompson is on to something. He mused lately, “We’re playing at 8:15 or 8:30 consistently in football, we’ve even had some 9 o’clock tips in basketball…What are we doing? What’s the return…The question becomes: Is it worth $1 million per school to have all these disenfranchised fans?”

While “consistently” kicking-off at 8:30pm is a bit inaccurate, Thompson’s point is well-made and has the data to support it. Regardless of whether the MWC will be bold enough to be one of the first DI conferences to go without a television contract, the presence of an alternative and a major conference’s willingness to consider it is newsworthy in-and-of-itself.

About Contributor Francis Giknis
Francis Giknis joins College AD as a contributor after seven years of teaching and coaching throughout the east coast. Prior to writing for College AD, Francis earned an English degree from the College of William and Mary and his masters at Columbia University. Raised in a cable television-free household, he remembers binge-watching ESPN while on vacations away from home, much to the chagrin of his parents.

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