The new Cleveland Indians-run TV network has officially unveiled its 2006 schedule, and its name - SportsTime Ohio.
SportsTime Ohio - or "STO" - will launch March 12th, with a tape-delayed spring training contest between the Indians and the New York Yankees. It'd already been reported that the new network will carry 130 regular season games, and 8 spring training outings.
Aside from the name, other news:
* Long-time Indians TV team John Sanders, Rick Manning and Mike Hegan will return for the 2006 season. They'll be joined by WKYC/3 sports director Jim Donovan on the 20 games that the local NBC affiliate will air as the over-air rightsholder.
* All 63 home games carried on the cable side will be in high-definition, in addition to the 20 over-air contests already announced as being in HD.
* The first regular season contest on SportsTime Ohio will be the April 4th contest against the Chicago White Sox. The first WKYC/3-aired contest will be the home opener, April 7th.
* There will be, as expected, a weekly half-hour Indians news program on WKYC/3.
* The team adds two additional cameras for "more angles" in the high definition broadcasts.
What wasn't announced today was also expected - any new cable/satellite deals. STO/Fastball Sports Productions president Jim Liberatore had the expected line about continued negotiations with the services not yet on board with STO (read: everyone but Time Warner Cable). Liberatore once again stands on the "we have popular programming, bug your provider" position...quoting the Indians' second press release:
"We believe that our proposals to these systems are fair and reflect the tremendous value of Indians programming, as confirmed in several different viewership surveys," Liberatore said. "We are working hard to ensure that the Indians games and the related programming are available to the widest possible audience, and we encourage fans to contact their cable company or satellite service to let them know they want to see the Indians programming."
It doesn't sound like the team/STO/Fastball is backing down from a hard-line position, one which prompted local MSO Cox Cable to put up the "MakeThemPlayFair" website we reported earlier. The call to Indians fans is repeated on the new STO website: "Not a Time Warner Cable Subscriber? STO is asking you to make the first pitch of Spring by contacting your local cable or satellite provider before March 12th so you don't miss an inning of Indians Baseball!"
Liberatore continues to talk about the Indians building an over-air network in other Ohio markets, to air the games broadcast by WKYC. But there also is no mention yet of any broadcast TV affiliates in markets like Columbus, Youngstown or Toledo...