Death of an RSN: The Mtn. Goes Dark May 31

The Mtn., the regional sports network for the Mountain West Conference,
will go dark on May 31.

Jointly owned by CBS Sports Network and
NBCUniversal, and operated by the latter,
the Mtn. was the first conference-specific
RSN when it kicked off in 2006. The 13 million-
home network, which had difficulties
over the years securing carriage, is a casualty
of college conference restructuring and
the uncertainty surrounding the Mountain
West, which has already seen BYU, Utah and
TCU defect, with San Diego State and Boise
State scheduled to migrate as well.

Further clouding its future was movement
toward some form of alignment between the
MWC and Conference USA. Such a business
play could put the base of schools from those
two entities across five time zones.

“This network would have never been formed
today, given the teams that have left and are
about to leave,” one source familiar with the
situation said. “Its future is clearly uncertain.”

In shuttering its operations, 44 Mtn. employees
were told on April 5 that they will
lose their jobs. They will be handed severance
packages and priority opportunities to find
work at Comcast RSNs, including its channel
in Houston that will tip off this fall.

On the TV side, CBS Sports Network and
the Mountain West are close to finalizing an
agreement that will give CBSSN the rights to
add football and basketball games to air on
the 45 million-home network, sources familiar
with the negotiations said.

Some other product will likely be sublicensed.
Versus, the predecessor to NBC
Sports Network, has televised some of the
conference’s contests in the past. There
also will be eff orts made to distribute some
games to local outlets.