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Scott D. Pierce: Fans with DirecTV can't see title game

Published: Friday, March 12 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

On the eve of the Mountain West Conference men's and women's basketball tournament championships, DirecTV and Versus still haven't made up.

Which means that MWC fans who signed up for DirecTV — many because it offered all the channels that carry MWC games — won't be able to watch. Unless they go to someone else's house.

Because both the men's and women's title games will be telecast on Versus.

Maybe there's hope on the horizon. Not for Saturday's games — it's too late for that — but for next season.

There are rumors that an agreement between Comcast-owned Versus and DirecTV is in the offing. That the channel will be back on the satellite TV provider before the NHL playoffs start in April.

There's nothing official in the dispute between the two sides, which knocked Versus off DirecTV in September. (It involves both money and channel placement — which programming tier Versus would occupy on DirecTV.)

But DirecTV representatives have been tweeting about productive talks and promising an update soon.

Once again, this is not a MWC issue. The conference has no standing in the dispute. It also affects the NHL, Pac-10 and Big 12.

But it does seem entirely unfair to MWC fans who signed up for DirecTV to get The mtn., CBS C and Versus.

NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS: The update on The mtn. and Dish Network is — there is no update. Don't hold your breath.

But Dish does have Versus, so you can watch Saturday's games ...

MWC VS. WAC: There's still a (somewhat less) vocal contingent out there insisting that all would be well if the Mountain West Conference had either stayed with ESPN or if it would go back.

It depends on how you look at it.

The Western Athletic Conference has the kind of deal the MWC would have with ESPN. (Don't argue. It's true.)

Only two of the WAC men's quarterfinals were televised. And on ESPNU, which is only available in about 40 percent of American homes.

Only one of the WAC men's semifinals is televised. It's on ESPN2 (seen in about 85 percent of U.S. homes) — but the semifinal featuring Utah State won't be on TV.

The men's final is on ESPN2; the women's final — the only women's game to be televised — is on ESPNU.

All of the MWC men's games are televised. Granted, they're on channels with less distribution than ESPN2. But not less than ESPNU. (CBS C is at almost 50 percent this week; Versus is at about 67 percent.)

On the women's side, the three first-round games weren't televised, but the two second-round (The mtn.), two third-round (The mtn.) and title game (Versus) are.

And the MWC got twice as much money from its TV deal than what ESPN was offering.

So, yeah, it depends on how you look at it.

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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