After a relatively quiet opening weekend, the local college football season seems certain to heat up this weekend. At least on television.
A lot of local fans are no doubt going to be hot under the collar on Saturday when they realize that they won't be able to see the 2 p.m. BYU-Tulsa game or the 6 p.m. Utah-Northern Arizona matchup.
Both games will be carried on the new Mountain West Conference channel The mtn. And as of this writing The mtn. is available only to cable subscribers. Only to some cable subscribers.
Comcast, by far Utah's biggest cable provider, has added the channel to its expanded-basic lineup. Bresnan has done the same in places like Cedar City, Delta and Vernal.
The mtn. is available on expanded basic in Provo (on Provo Cable and MSTAR); it's on All West/Utah's basic lineup in Coalville, Kamas and Randolph; it's on Central Telecom's basic lineup in Anabella, Austin, Central Valley, Elsinor and Monroe and on its expanded basic lineups in Aurora, Central Valley, Ephraim, Eureka, Fairview, Fountain Green, Goshen, Gunnison, Manti, Moroni, Mt. Pleasant, Redmond, Richfield, Salina, Santaquin and Spring City.
It may be on other systems somewhere in the state. (It's on some in Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.) There's only one way to find out:
CALL YOUR CABLE PROVIDER AND ASK.
Contrary to the belief of e-mailers and callers from not only around the state of Utah but from New York to California, Montana to Florida, nobody at the Deseret Morning News knows the status of The mtn. at every cable system in America. We can't even say for certain about its status at every cable system in Utah.
That there's confusion about all of this is evident just from the steady stream of phone calls coming in from people who don't understand what's happening. Some of those who subscribe to basic cable are going to be in for a nasty surprise when they realize their provider has placed The mtn. on expanded basic.
As for satellite providers Dish Network and DirecTV again, as of this writing The mtn. is not available. Comcast, which owns half The mtn., is negotiating with the two and a deal is reportedly in the offing, but that won't be certain until the contracts are signed.
(And, no, Comcast isn't trying to keep The mtn. off other cable and satellite systems. Comcast benefits every time a distribution deal is worked out.)
One of the reasons Ute and Cougar fans are going to be unhappy on Saturday is that a lot of them will be expecting to see the games because they've been told erroneously that their satellite provider will carry The mtn. Fans like this e-mailer, who had what seems to be a fairly common experience:
"I just got off the phone with a Dish representative to voice support for them contracting with The mtn. She told me that they already have a contract with them and that if I sign up for the 'top 120' I'd be able to get that station. Is this accurate or did I get someone that is clueless?"
Well, "clueless" would seem fairly accurate.
And another e-mail had a similar experience with DirecTV: "They told me if I subscribe to their expanded sports package, I'll get the channel. Is that true?"
Again, not as of this writing.
The athletic directors of Utah and BYU on Thursday asked Cougar and Ute fans to call cable and satellite providers and lobby for companies to pick up the MWC's network. (See Page A14.)
The only easy prediction is that there are going to be a whole lot of BYU and Utah fans with elevated blood pressure come Saturday.And once fans get The mtn. situation figured out, there are still questions to be answered. Both Utah and BYU have upcoming games scheduled on CSTV and Versus (the name OLN will soon be switching to), so cable and satellite subscribers will have to figure out if they get those channels, too.