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Brad Rock: MWC TV plan clear as mud

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 8:48 a.m. MDT

Pardon me for not doingback-flips because I can see virtually all Mountain West Conference football games this fall on TV . . . providing I already have the "expanded basic" cable package. And providing I don't try to watch them on the Internet or local TV. And providing I remember to close my eyes, click my heels and repeat, "There's no place like home."
It's hard to tell which might be more difficult — deciding what channel the New Mexico-BYU game is on, or loosing the Gordian Knot. At least the mythical knot wasn't a moving target.
One of this week's biggest local stories was that cable giant Comcast, which provides service to 23 million subscribers, had purchased half The mtn. sports channel from CSTV and the Mountain West Conference. That means most cable subscribers in Utah can watch their favorite MWC team without additional cost. But if you don't take cable and were planning on viewing games on KJZZ or KSL, for instance, forget about it.
As MWC commissioner Craig Thompson noted, "There is no free TV."
Which should come as news to CBS, NBC and ABC, to name a few.
Still, the good news is that I can catch the Cougars and Utes on TV. All I need to do is pay my cable bill, repeat the Gettysburg Address in Finnish and make sure the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars.
How come I can get poker on TV just about any time day or night, but finding the Utah-San Diego State game requires a Navajo code talker?
It's not as though the new arrangement is an entirely bad idea. The agreement means the days of seeing games on ESPN at 5:30 on a Thursday are over. Also, for most viewers, seeing games on cable won't require additional expense — for now. But as they say in the industry, stay tuned. The day of all pay-per-view sports is just around the corner.
Because most avid sports fans already subscribe to cable, the issue isn't so much free access vs. paid — that's already been decided — but how to find the games. It's going to be a bit like playing "Monkey Island" on the computer: myriad choices as you attempt to solve the puzzle.
Who knew finding a football game would have more twists than a Miss Marple mystery?
Hence, the Ute football team can be found this fall on CSTV, except when it's on The mtn. and not counting the game against Utah State, which is scheduled to be on KJZZ. And aside from the game against UCLA, which is on Fox Sports Network. The Cougars will be starring this fall on CSTV, The mtn., TBS and ESPN2.
About 16 MWC games are scheduled to be aired by CSTV, but half could be moved to the Outdoor Life Network, which reportedly will be changing its name to Versus. What is this, hockey?
Finding the game on TV might be more trouble than just attending in person.
A few dozen key MWC games are set to air on The mtn. But some could still end up on CSTV, depending on what the powers that be think is best for viewers. If you have satellite TV, you already have CSTV — if you ordered the right package. If you have MSTAR fiber-optic service, you can get the games, too, as long as you also subscribe to its high-speed Internet service. However, if you're planning to actually watch the game on the Internet, there's a problem. It could be blacked out if the game isn't a sellout.
In any case, I'm looking forward to the games this fall. There should be some cliff-hangers. I have only one suggestion: Why not put a few games on the Food Channel? That way Rachael Ray can show us how to make three-cheese quesadillas during timeouts.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com

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