Football to gain increased exposure with ESPN deal



BYU made headlines this past year when it announced it would forgo playing in the Mountain West Conference and enter independence in football and the West Coast Conference in other sports.

The day after announcing football independence, BYU made other headlines when it announced an eight-year partnership with the largest sports entertainment network, ESPN.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe told the Deseret News the ESPN deal aligned with BYU’s purposes in moving conferences.

“The decision to go independent comes down to two pillars — access and exposure,” Holmoe said. “Every home football game and men’s basketball game will now be carried nationally.”

The 2011 Cougars’ football schedule will allow it to achieve both of those goals. BYU is already scheduled to have seven of its 12 games on the ESPN network of channels including four games on the main ESPN channel.

Following the partnership, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisition, Dave Brown, spoke to the media.

“This is just a tremendous day for ESPN to be back in business with BYU in a formal basis,” Brown said. “It’s a tremendous addition to our college football schedule.”

Additionally, BYUtv will expand production to include 140 live events this next year including the football games not picked up by ESPN, which will allow BYU to play in front of a national audience for every game.

It is not yet clear whether or not the campus cable lineup will include the ESPN family of networks for this upcoming school year. ESPN and ESPN2 had been available on campus until 2008, when BYU elected to drop the channels for financial reasons.

“I don’t know how big of a deal it really is that ESPN isn’t a part of on-campus cable,” said Nathan Moorehead, a junior at BYU. “I know it won’t affect me and most people I know because we will watch it at home. ESPN is so accessible, it’s hard to say you can’t find it. I’m surprised that BYU doesn’t have access to ESPN on campus right now, but financially they have to do what makes sense, so I understand.”

President Cecil O. Samuelson told the Deseret News what he thought about the implications of the new partnership with ESPN.

“A driving force in our deliberations has been to secure broad, nationwide access to our games for our large, national following,” Samuelson said.

This next season looks to make progress with those aims as BYU football will be accessible to a larger audience than ever before.

“I think our increased exposure with ESPN will help us, especially with recruiting,” said Jason DeLange, a senior in the business management program. “Any time you can get your program in a nationally televised game I think you put yourself in a position to attract more marquee players. I think we’re already starting to see that with some of our recent commitments from places like Florida and California. We’re becoming a more nationally established program.”

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