Ryan Teeples: For BYU, a painful TV past has led to a continually fruitful ESPN relationship
While Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson liked to tout that the MWC had games on “national television,” it was spurious rhetoric at best. The mtn. and CBS Sports were and are invisible guppies compared to the viewership and distribution of the ESPN family of networks.
With its deal with the worldwide leader, BYU football TV viewership is higher than it’s ever been and Cougar fans, who can be found across the nation — and even the globe — have access to every home game BYU plays from their living rooms.
But ESPN is getting what it wants in return, too.
“It’s all about eyeballs on a game, and the one thing that ESPN will always tell you is they recognize that BYU draws eyeballs. That’s why they were keen to re-establish this relationship. Sometimes you don’t recognize what you have until you lose it, and that goes both ways,” Mikel Minor, senior coordinating producer of sports programming at BYUtv, said.
And he should know, having spent five years producing at ESPN before helping launch BYUtv’s new era of sports.
Minor recalls a meeting at ESPN where someone in programming listed 10 collegiate football programs on the board. He said that the numbers indicated, and the network recognized, these schools as having national value from an audience standpoint. Then, a circle was drawn around three schools that the network said it would take any time it could get them.
BYU was one of the three.
At every level of the department, BYU is benefiting from its relationship with ESPN. But this is clearly no one-sided love story.
And it continues to progress.
This summer, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe spoke of the challenges of scheduling as an independent and pointed toward its deal with ESPN as an important tool in that work.
“Our contacts at ESPN call regularly about potential schedule opportunities and to discuss possible matchups. This is another example of how the ESPN contract is a win-win situation for BYU,” Holmoe said.
Bronco Mendenhall talked of his involvement in scheduling and spoke to the magnitude of the deal with the worldwide leader in sports.
“The power of ESPN has absolutely amazed me to this point, of what teams will do to get on ESPN,” he said.
For BYU, that road to getting on ESPN was a long, painful one. But considering the point to which it’s come and the ongoing flourishing of the relationship the two parties see, it’s been worth it.
Ryan Teeples, twitter.com/SportsGuyUtah, is a marketing and technology expert, full-time sports fan, owner of Ryan Teeples Consulting Inc. (RyanTeeples.com) and regular contributor to LoyalCougars.com.
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