Boise State's TV deal with KTVB is good for Bronco football, bad for Bronco basketball

The good things that happen to Boise State football tend to stay with Boise State football. And the new local TV contract with KTVB is no exception.

Bronco football wins. Bronco men's basketball loses. Not that anyone will notice, which is apparently how those involved wanted it to be.

KTVB will air every Bronco football game this season that is not currently being aired by someone else. This includes the following, barring any of these games being more interesting than they currently seem:

  • Sept. 12 vs. Miami (OH)
  • Sept. 26 @ Bowling Green
  • Oct. 3 vs. UC Davis
  • Oct. 24 @ Hawaii
  • Oct. 31 vs. San Jose State
  • Nov. 14 vs. Idaho
  • Dec. 5 vs. New Mexico State

That list includes five home games, the always entertaining Hawaii home game, and two nonconference dates against some sneaky opponents. Coverage of the games will reach all the way out to Twin Falls and Eastern Idaho. Mark Johnson and Tom Scott will return, coming off their most competent performance of the year in a nationally-televised Nevada game.

The KTVB deal for the remaining BSU football games is a win-win for Boise State football fans.

I wish I could say the same for basketball fans - however many of you are left.

KTVB and Boise State decided mutually (I wonder if this is the same mutual decision that a former girlfriend and I came to when she broke up with me) to air zero Bronco men's basketball home games. This is the same number the valley's top station will air for women's soccer, gymnastics, wrestling, and Arbiter staff meetings. There's a possibility that a few road games might find their way onto 24/7, a channel that takes a significant amount of tech savvy and Radio Shack visits to find.

The rationale for the decision:

"The fact we're not doing as many basketball games is a sign of the times," KTVB prez Doug Armstrong said. "It's hard to get advertising support for that many games, and (games) cost a lot to produce.

"Frankly, they could have been robbing a little bit from the ticket sales at home games. All around, we can save a little money and BSU might be able to sell more tickets. It seemed like the right thing to do in a recession like this."

Allow me to translate:

"The fact that we're not doing as many basketball games is a sign of the times."

What he really said: "The fact that we're not doing as many basketball games is because no one cares about Bronco men's basketball."

"It's hard to get advertising support for that many games."

What he really said: "We're not willing to cut into priceless News at Five re-runs on 24/7 for live basketball coverage." Advertising is a moot point when you have a (basically) free access channel to play around with.

"Games cost a lot to produce."

What he really said: "Games cost a lot to produce." This one I'll buy, but I'm pretty sure that this excuse wasn't debated very hard in the contract negotiations. All they have to do is throw wide-angle camera on the court and overdub the radio broadcast, and I'll be happy. What's that? Like fifteen bucks? I don't know; I dropped out of accounting.

"All around we might be able to save a little money and BSU might be able to sell more tickets. It seemed like the right thing to do ..."

What he really said: "I hate all the orphans in the world." (/Nacho Libre'd!)

This last statement is the one that really gets me because it represents the flat-out wrong view of Bronco men's basketball that is shared by too many people in too important of positions.

People treat Boise State men's basketball like the disappointing younger son who can't keep up with his successful older brother. (Note: I am not speaking from experience - at least not until my brother finishes his doctorate.)

The television deal is the epitome of this way of thinking. Cutting off Bronco home basketball games - of which there were few to begin with, but still there were some - is not going to help the men's team reach the same heights as their football cohorts. Bronco athletics is always crying about how few people care about Bronco basketball games. This is why! It's awfully hard to care about the Broncos when they are so far out of sight and out of mind.

Banishing Bronco home games from television isn't going to drive people to Taco Bell Arena. And it's certainly not going to help the men's basketball team five years from now. Though the powers that be might have the best interests of the bottom line in mind - and at times like these, it's prudent to do so - they are doing so to the detriment of a program that has the potential to be something big.

This decision is not going to win new fans, which is something that Boise State wants. It is not going to be a revelation at the ticket office, which is something they might need. It is a safe call. It is the wrong call.

I remember stumbling upon a Bronco basketball game when I was a kid. It had pre-empted something else I had wanted to watch (probably Who's the Boss?), but rather than turn the channel in anger at losing Tony Danza time, I stayed. And I watched. And I started liking what I saw.

The Broncos on TV was something entirely new to me, and as a fresh-faced youngster, I found it fascinating. Seeing them on the same set that my beloved Tony Danza called home made the Broncos important. No matter how often the newspaper told me they were important, no matter how many times Wayne Dzuback gushed over Roberto Bergeson, I didn't believe it until I saw it with my own eyes on my own TV.

I had a similar reaction to my first Boise State football experience. I didn't become a fan by being dragged to a home game. I started loving the Broncos the day I heard Tony Hilde leading Boise State to a I-AA playoff win on the radio. I can still remember sitting in a church parking lot at a wedding in some small Idaho town, listening to the voice of Paul J.

The funny thing is that my two experiences - Bronco basketball on TV and Bronco football on the radio - took me in completely different directions.

I never did find much Bronco basketball after that day. I did find plenty of Who's the Boss episodes (for the record, I think Angela was the boss). But without any Bronco b-ball games to follow, I stopped caring.

Boise State football is a different story. After the radio broadcast, there were games on TV and ESPN coverage and the care and attention of a big-time program being pushed onto my local team. It was easy to become a BSU football fan. The rest is history.

I can't help but wonder how many other youngsters (and old-timers and middle-agers) Boise State is pushing away by not treating men's basketball better.

I decided something this weekend: I like Boise State basketball. I wish that Boise State and KTVB would make it easier for me to do so.

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