FBC Colorado State Football

Jan 182005
Authors: Jon Pilsner

The Rams are on the move.

To a new TV channel, that is.

CSTV, the first 24-hour television channel dedicated to collegiate sports, will launch MWC-TV in the fall of 2006, a new network dedicated to round the clock coverage of the Mountain West Conference.

MWC-TV will become the first regional network dedicated solely to a singe intercollegiate athletic conference.

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson, as well as CSTV executives and CSU athletic director Mark Driscoll, sat down with local media on Monday to discuss the new channel and changes coming to the conference.

"Our mission from day one has been connecting more college sports fans to college sports," said Chris Bevilacqua, co-founder and vice president of CSTV.

MWC-TV, when it goes on the air in 2006, will broadcast as many as 40 MWC football games and up to 120 men's and women's basketball games each year. It will ensure TV exposure for almost every football and basketball game.

The deal, which will replace the current deal the MWC has with ESPN, will give the MWC and its member schools more coverage on TV.

"I really believe for the Mountain West it's a great opportunity," Driscoll said. "We had some concerns going into negotiations with ESPN."

The agreement will end 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. football games, as well as 10 p.m. Monday night basketball games.

Dave Checketts, who helped broker the deal and will become co-chairman of CSTV, said the network wants to give more scheduling power to the conference.

"We want to make our members happy," Checketts said. "We won't make them play when they don't want to. Our philosophy is in promoting the conference."

Thompson said the flexibleness of CSTV helped make the deal possible.

"We're going to play games when our fans want to go to games," Thompson said. "(CSTV) has given us the latitude to play games when fans wanted them to play."

The agreement gives the MWC and its student athletes unprecedented TV coverage. Thompson said that currently about 230 hours of programming are given to the MWC annually. The new deal calls for about 1,300 hours.

It also means more exposure for CSU as an athletic department and university.

"It really helps the university," Driscoll said. "It generates more interest from alumni and corporate sponsors."

CSTV has already taken some steps towards broadcasting the MWC. This past fall, all seven games of the MWC volleyball tournament were televised by CSTV and all of the conference's volleyball tournament games were televised.

CSTV will also broadcast the first two rounds of the MWC women's basketball tournament this March.

Part of the deal will include small renovations to member stadiums and arenas allowing CSTV to broadcast with minimal production costs.

"We'll move in on a permanent basis," Checketts said. "That way we can just hook up and go."

Currently, Comcast cable does not offer CSTV on their basic package. Both Thompson and Bevilacqua believe once they begin broadcasting, however, people will call to demand access.

"I have confidence when the games come and are available, people will call," Thompson said. "The marketplace will be as such."

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