Should CBS Sports Network Pursue the MVFC After Summit League Deal?

CBS Sports Network just increased its presence in the Dakotas through its deal with the Summit League. Now, the MVFC seems like a logical partner.

The Summit League just signed a deal with CBS Sports Network for three years
Source: Dave Eggen/Grand Forks Herald (Inertia)

While the fate of the final four PAC-12 schools captures the attention of the national media and most college football fans, FCS and mid-major non-football conferences continue to advance in increasing their exposure. Earlier this week, the NEC, with its TV contract with CBS Sports Network, announced the introduction of .Yesterday, CBS Sports Network took another step to diversify its broadcasting portfolio by signing a three-year deal with the Summit League to significantly enhance the league's profile. At least six men's basketball games will be televised yearly by CBS Sports Network. A national audience will also witness select rounds and the finals of the Summit League men's and women's tournaments.

This national TV contract plays a pivotal role in expanding the reach of a league known for having few large markets. The Summit League houses the Olympic sports of the four Dakota FCS schools and can capture the interest of CBS Sports Network.In the age of cord-cutters, consolidation becomes crucial. CBS Sports Network can strive to capture viewership in the Dakotas. South Dakota State and North Dakota State's periods of dominance make their games valuable TV content. Furthermore, South Dakota and North Dakota have made FCS Playoff appearances since 2021.

CBS Sports Network already holds a contract with the Missouri Valley Conference for basketball, making extending the agreement to football a natural step. The main challenge lies in convincing schools to shift games from Saturdays to weeknights. The NEC's pair of Thursday night games demonstrates that most of the time slots linear TV networks are willing to provide FCS schools are on weeknights.

While the powers of the league might be unwilling to compromise attendance, bottom-dwellers like Indiana State or Murray State could potentially move a game against the Dakota schools to a weeknight. Despite securing a national TV spot, the downside is that the country would witness a game likely to end in a blowout in front of a sparse crowd. This scenario does not present a positive image for the league and negates the gains from national TV exposure. The MVFC might consider themselves too prestigious for weeknights, similar to the CAA. The existing league contract is comprehensive and, more importantly, accessible.

Along with airing all games on ESPN+, schools like Illinois State broadcast football games on RSNs owned by professional teams, providing fans with the best of both worlds. Whether someone is a cord-cutter or subscribes to cable or over-the-top services like YouTube TV or Hulu Live, accessing MVFC football is hassle-free.

While the Dakotas might not represent vast TV markets, they house some of the finest football in the nation. Through the Summit League contract, CBS Sports Network has now established a presence in the Dakotas. Televising MVFC football logically follows as the next step. Nonetheless, one must ponder whether securing weeknight spots on the CBS Sports Network is worth potentially jeopardizing the existing contract with ESPN+.