Scott D. Pierce: Mountain of e-mail says fans still upset about The mtn.

Published: Friday, Aug. 10 2007 12:03 a.m. MDT

To be perfectly honest, I thought I was doing something sort of stupid in last week's Sports on TV column — encouraging readers to let me know if they think I write too much about the problems with The mtn.

I get plenty of e-mail from people telling me what a lousy job they think I'm doing without encouraging more.

So I was somewhat surprised at the outcome: One e-mail from somebody who told me they were pleased with The mtn., CSTV, Comcast and the Mountain West Conference; more than 100 telling me they weren't and encouraging me to keep on complaining in print about the MWC's TV situation.

OK, I was more than somewhat surprised. I was shocked.

Just to make this clear, I don't think this has anything to do with me. I think it's yet another sign of the deep unhappiness and resentment that's festering among MWC fans. (Well, Utah and BYU fans, at least.) I think this sort of thing should be another clue to the people at the league and The mtn. that the time is long past to be singing the praises of a deal that has resulted in many fans being unable to see their teams.

This is a public relations disaster for everyone involved. This is a personal disaster for millions of fans.

And telling fans that everything is peachy-keen doesn't help the situation, it only makes things worse.

The CSTV deal put an end to local telecasts of BYU and Utah football on KSL and KJZZ. Both Ch. 5 and Ch. 14 are available in virtually all 839,000 homes that Nielsen Media Research tells us make up the Salt Lake television market.

(The Salt Lake market includes all of Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming.)

So a "local" telecast on KJZZ or KSL was available to about two-thirds as many homes as a telecast on The mtn. is now.

Speaking of channels that not much of anybody has heard of, Weber State's and Utah State's football teams will be on one of those this fall.

Altitude Sports and Entertainment is a Denver-based, regional sports network that's owned by Stan Kroenke. He also owns the NBA Nuggets, NHL Avalanche and MLS Rapids.

If you've got Altitude — and quite a few of you do on your cable or satellite systems — you'll be able to see the Wildcats twice and the Aggies four times.

The Aggies' scheduled appearances are: San Jose State at USU (Sept. 22); Louisiana Tech at USU (Oct. 27); USU at New Mexico State (Nov. 17); and USU at Idaho (Nov. 24).

The Wildcats' appearances are: Montana State at WSU (Sept. 22); and Idaho State at WSU (Nov. 3).

Altitude is available in 2.8 million homes in 10 states, including Utah. And, by the way, that's 1.6 million more homes than The mtn.

So you could easily make the argument that Weber State and Utah State are getting better exposure for some of their games than Utah and BYU are getting for some of theirs.

For the past couple of weeks, ESPN has been sending those of us who write about TV self-congratulatory e-mails about how ESPN and ESPN2 were carrying all the baseball games in which Barry Bonds could tie and then break Hank Aaron's home run record. Which made this bit of math all the more interesting:

On April 8, 1974, 14.9 million homes were tuned in to watch the game in which Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record.

On Tuesday, 995,000 homes were tuned in to see Bonds break Aaron's record.

There are a lot of ways to explain this away — the TV world has changed a lot in the past third of a century — but the fact remains that 15 times as many homes tuned in to watch Aaron.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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