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January 17, 2012

DIRECTV Sports Networks and Big Sky Conference Enter Pact

SEATTLE, Wash. – DIRECTV Sports Networks and the Big Sky Conference have entered into a five-year agreement making DIRECTV Sports Networks and its ROOT SPORTS branded regional sports networks the league's official TV partner and the home of Big Sky football and basketball.  Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

NAU TV will continue to broadcast Lumberjack volleyball, football, soccer and men's and women's basketball not selected by the ROOTS Sports package.

DIRECTV Sports Networks owns and operates three regional sports networks branded as ROOT SPORTS™.   The three ROOT SPORTS networks reach more than 8.7 million viewers across 18 states, including Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah and Colorado in the Big Sky Conference footprint.  Big Sky Conference games will be distributed primarily to the Northwest and Rocky Mountain ROOT SPORTS networks, which are carried by all major distributors in those territories, including Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Cablevision and many others.       

In addition, as the national television rights holder for Big Sky athletics, DIRECTV Sports Networks will have the ability to distribute Big Sky games both regionally and nationally.

DIRECTV Sports Networks will produce and televise up to 18 Big Sky Conference football games each season, including the annual Montana-Montana State rivalry game, beginning with the 2012 football season.   Under the agreement, it may also broadcast up to 12 regular season conference basketball games as well as Big Sky quarterfinal and semifinal conference men's basketball tournament games.  All events will be produced and distributed in High Definition with new state-of-the-art graphics elements customized for the Big Sky Conference and its teams.  

"Our agreement with DIRECTV Sports Networks and ROOT SPORTS solidifies our position as a major player in Division I football in the western United States,'' said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. "This is a landmark deal for the Big Sky Conference, as it will increase our exposure regionally and nationally in football and basketball. We are very excited to begin this partnership with DIRECTV Sports Networks. We know our fans will appreciate the high production values, which will be second-to-none.''

"We are proud to partner with the Big Sky Conference," said Patrick Crumb, President of DIRECTV Sports Networks.  "Our distributors and viewers in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions have consistently requested Big Sky match-ups and we are excited to bring these rivalries to a broader audience." 

About DIRECTV Sports Networks:

Seattle-based DIRECTV Sports Networks is a wholly owned subsidiary of DIRECTV and operates three regional sports networks branded as ROOT SPORTS™.  The three networks (based in Bellevue WA, Denver CO, and Pittsburgh, PA) are distributed in 18 states and hold exclusive regional telecast rights to over two dozen professional and collegiate teams, including the Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins, Utah Jazz, Seattle Sounders FC, Portland Timbers, University of Washington, Washington State University, Oregon State University and Gonzaga University.  The ROOT SPORTS networks also distribute Big 12, Pac-12, Conference USA and other collegiate football and basketball games. 

About the Big Sky Conference

The Big Sky Conference will celebrate its 50th season in 2013-14, and currently consists of nine schools in eight states (Eastern Washington University, Idaho State University, The University of Montana, Montana State University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Northern Colorado, Sacramento State, Portland State University and Weber State University). On July 1, 2012, Southern Utah University and the University of North Dakota are scheduled to join as full members, and Cal Poly and UC Davis will join as football affiliate members.

The Big Sky Conference is one of the premier leagues at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision Level. It advanced teams to the Division I National Championship three straight seasons from 2008-2010. Eastern Washington won the national championship in 2010. This season, Montana advanced to the semifinals and finished third in the final poll. Montana State advanced to the quarterfinals and finished seventh in the final poll.

Multiple Big Sky Conference teams have qualified for the FCS postseason thirteen consecutive seasons. In recent seasons, league teams have upset squads from the Big 12 and Pac 12 Conferences, including Sacramento State's stunning overtime win over Oregon State earlier this season. The Big Sky is also home to the nation's top scorer in Division I basketball, Weber State's Damian Lillard.