HELENA — After originally saying it would not televise Montana and Montana State’s second-round playoff games this weekend, ESPN said Tuesday it will make the games available through its GamePlan subscription service.
All eight Football Championship Subdivision playoff games this weekend will now be offered through the service, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.
Viewers will have to pay a suggested retail price of $24.60 that includes all the weekend’s games or find a bar where the service is available. The actual price may vary depending on the cable or satellite distributor, Krulewitz said.
ESPN owns the broadcast rights to the Football Championship Subdivision playoff games, and had planned to carry Saturday’s New Hampshire-Montana State game and Central Arkansas-Montana game on ESPN3.com, an Internet-only feed.
The blackout created an outcry among fans who demanded the network broadcast the games or sell the rights to another station. U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg sent letters to ESPN officials asking the network to reconsider.
Krulewitz acknowledged the strong response and said the network believed offering the games through the subscription service was an appropriate solution.
“We certainly heard from some sports fans,” he said. “We can understand and appreciate and respect the unrivaled passion of sports fans.”
Tester and Baucus announced the change on Tuesday, saying they secured the commitment from the network.
“ESPN made the right call for Montana, and I appreciate them listening to the thousands of fans who rallied in support of Montana football,” Tester said in a statement.
Montana hosts Central Arkansas with kickoff scheduled for noon Saturday. Kickoff for the New Hampshire-Montana State game is at 1:05 p.m. in Bozeman.
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