The Mtn., the network dedicated to televising Mountain West games and programming, will be off the air after May 31. One of the most immediate questions for Air Force, which will be discussed at the academy over most of the spring, will be what happens to the television broadcasts of its football games.
CBS Sports Network has the rights to the Mountain West games, and has various options for those games. Air Force’s marquee games – such as games at Army and against Navy – should be picked up. The rights for the Falcons’ game at Michigan is controlled by the Wolverines. And some of Air Force’s conference games will be picked up by CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network or another party, as negotiated by CBS Sports Network. But The Mtn. broadcast six Air Force games last year, so there’s likely to be some leftover home games that fall in the academy’s lap.
While it sounds like an opportunity for Air Force to make some money, it might not be that easy to sell the rights to games like the opener against Idaho State. There are significant production costs involved (I was told it runs about $50,000-60,000 for a standard definition broadcast, even more for high definition), and a television station would have to figure out if it could make back those costs on advertising.
The Falcons could shop the rights to any unselected home games to Colorado sports cable networks like Root Sports or Altitude, and if that isn’t an option, they could see if a local station is interested. If Air Force can’t find any interested outlets, it could look into options like video streaming games on its website. Broadcasts of Air Force’s road games will also be interesting to track through the upcoming weeks, because Air Force won’t control those rights.
The next few weeks should be interesting at Air Force as it figures out the pieces to the broadcast puzzle for the 2012 football season.