Montana fans who enjoyed high-definition ROOT Sports broadcasts of Grizzly football games last season, will see two fewer games this season after the network announced its 2013 schedule last week.
Next season is the 50th year of Big Sky Conference football, and it is the second year of a five-year contract for ROOT Sports to televise BSC football games. The network announced it will air 10 games for the 2013 season, down from 12 last season. The Grizzlies will appear on ROOT four times next year, down from six last year.
For UM defensive lineman Alex Bienemann, a native of Denver, Colo., Missoula is 900 miles away from his hometown. The ROOT Sports contract gave Bienemann’s friends and family to see him play from the comfort of their living room.
While his parents travel to Missoula for most games, his brother and new sister-in-law watch from afar on ROOT Sports, while balancing full-time jobs.
“If I was going anywhere else in the country or if I was at Colorado State or Colorado back home, all of their games are on TV,” said Bienemann, a senior on UM’s squad. “It’s nice that we got that contract with ROOT Sports because it’s not easy to get to Missoula. It’s expensive to get in and out of here with their busy schedules.”
This year, ROOT Sports will air the Grizzlies’ home contests against Portland State and Eastern Washington, and their road games at Northern Arizona and the “Brawl of the Wild” against Montana State.
In the first year of ROOT Sports, the games were broadcast in high definition and featured pregame and postgame shows. ROOT Sports is available in 18 states through many satellite and cable services. The five-year contract with the BSC covers only conference matchups, so fans will have to find another means of accessing Montana games such as the Grizzlies’ season opener against Southern Conference foe Appalachian State.
UM associate athletic director of business and finance James Gibson said the contract creates more exposure to other states since it is a regional network, but Montana didn’t receive a big financial benefit as a result of the contract.
“The financial benefit you hope comes from the advertising dollars when you’re on TV is directly impacting your recruitment on campus,” said Gibson about the two commercial promotions that air on ROOT Sports during football season. “Not just student-athletes, but students in general.”
“If you’re increasing enrollment at the school, then you’re increasing student-athletic fee dollars to the athletic department,” Gibson added.
The switch last year to ROOT Sports meant some Montana and Montana State fans had to purchase cable or satellite service to watch some of the games. But for other out-of-state Grizzly fans, the contract provides accessibility miles away.
Which station will air the the other eight games on Montana’s schedule next season is still unknown.
Games on ROOT Sports next year:
Montana at Northern Arizona 9/28
Montana vs. Portland State 10/5
Montana vs. Eastern Washington 10/26
Montana at Montana State 11/23