The Mtn. sports network pulling the plug in June


The Mtn., much criticized since hitting the airwaves in September 2006 but also a network that arguably became a trailblazer, will end operations in June.

Now the question is what happens to all those Mountain West Conference football and basketball games not aired on a national network that previously went to The Mtn.

No solid answers were provided Thursday, but the Mountain West appears close to an agreement with CBS Sports Network for the 2012-13 academic year and possibly something more long term.

A new TV package is expected to be part of the Mountain West's alignment with Conference USA. The leagues will merge or form some sort of partnership beginning in July 2013.

NBCUniversal and Comcast will end distribution of The Mtn. on June 1, and the network officially will cease operations June 30.

"This is simply one step in the ongoing, evolutionary process which is focused on developing a new organization and structure for our member institutions," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. "The goals continue to be creating greater stability, broader exposure platforms and increased revenue, and we are progressing in each of those areas with the appropriate parties."

UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood said he shared Thompson's thoughts.

"The commissioner's statement speaks for itself," Livengood said.

Molly Sullivan, a Green Valley High School graduate who went on to become a championship swimmer at North Carolina, covered UNLV for The Mtn.

She said in an email she was "proud to have been a part of the Mountain West team for the past four and a half years. Loyalty is in my blood, and I'm very grateful for my family at The Mtn. It was an honor to report on my hometown, both from the sidelines and in our Denver studios."

The Mtn. was created to provide coverage of the Mountain West, the first network devoted to a particular conference. The Big Ten Network later followed, and the trend has spread to other leagues.

But distribution issues cropped up from the beginning, and The Mtn. wasn't added to the Cox Cable Las Vegas lineup until December 2006.

There also were complaints about games not being available to a wider audience, but The Mtn. was intended to be more of a regional carrier for games not picked up nationally. The Mountain West established contracts with CSTV (now CBS Sports Network) and Versus (now NBC Sports Network) for those games, after the conference's original seven-year national deal with ESPN expired.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

 

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