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CSTV and U

The Mountain West Conference and CSTV have announced a partnership with Comcast Cable in launching The mtn. (MountainWest Sports Network).

Here's some interesting nuggets of information provided by the official league website:

  • The mtn. will be available to cable and satellite providers throughout the nation.  Comcast and CSTV each own 50% of the network, which will be managed by Comcast.  Additionally, CSTV will be added to Comcast's digital basic systems in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
  • The mtn. will give fans access to more MWC athletics than has ever been offered before across 19 different conference sports, including at least 25 football games, 75 men's basketball games, women's basketball games, conference championships, and men's and women's Olympic sports, such as swimming and diving, soccer, and tennis.  The mtn. will also carry press conferences, coaches' shows, pep rallies, and feature stories on athletes and coaches.  Other programming will tap into local sports culture.  Supplemental MWC coverage, including selected football and basketball games, will appear on CSTV and Comcast's OLN network, which will be changing its name to Versus in September, 2006.

With CSTV already owned by CBS, and now with Comcast onboard, this is fantastic news for the Mountain West Conference and its fans. There were a lot of questions on whether the new upstart college sports station could garner enough support needed to enter a bulk of American households. With OLN, already home to the NHL, the MWC and its teams should expect more national exposure in the future.

OLN has also received the rights to carry Arena Football, after their deal trying to get the NFL's cable package fell through.

So why are today's developments important to the U? Mostly because it assures the program of a solid television foundation for years to come. Prior to this announcement, there were many questions about the Mountain West's move from ESPN to CSTV. Most notably, concerns revolved around the realistic scenario that MWC teams would be shut out from the national audience since CSTV is still in its infancy stages. However games now being broadcast by OLN opens the market and signals a possible ending to those doubts.

Since the conference's inception in 1999, the Mountain West had been partnered with ESPN. However this season will be the first without ESPN after the Mountain West tired of ESPN's television scheduling.

The Utes play five nationally televised games this year, with all but one being aired on CSTV. Last season the Utes played 3 nationally televised games on ESPN and 2 regionally televised games on ABC. It's unclear whether CBS has any plans to air Mountain West basketball or football games, though it's important to note that CBS has aired and continues to air SEC football games.