Just a few comments off of the Roger Brown Monday sports media column in today's Plain Dealer:
* You had to expect that FOX Sports Net Ohio brass wouldn't be thrilled with either the Indians, who rejected their increased offer for game rights, or the team's new SportsTime Ohio network. FSN Ohio boss Steve Liverani tells Brown: "It's totally disingenuous for the Indians to drag us into this [debate], simply because they can't get their deals done and want to deflect attention from that fact." The fact, of course, being that STO is having trouble signing up Any Provider That's Not Time Warner for the new Indians deal...holding the hard line that "our programming is popular, and worth what we're asking for it."
What Liverani does not confirm or deny is if FSN Ohio would have asked for its own rate increase with a higher rights fee this season...telling Brown that "We don't believe you indiscriminately increase your rates just because your expenses increase."
OMW would like to hazard a guess that the truth is somewhere in the middle, as usual. FSN Ohio would not have the same new expenses as the Indians-run SportsTime Ohio, because they aren't creating a network out of scratch. But they likely would have asked for SOME sort of increase, since their rights fees would roughly have doubled if the Indians had accepted their 2006 offer. Liverani has the luxury of not having to answer the question, because his network lost its battle to keep the team.
By the way, the money it will cost to build STO apparently doesn't include paying for its own studios, at least for now...STO, at least in year one, will use the existing facilities of over-air partner WKYC/3 for such things as pre-game and post-game shows. But there is still significant "startup" cost involved.
STO's Jim Liberatore doesn't seem to be budging from his mountain...fully expecting that Tribe fans who don't start seeing games on cable or satellite in April will storm the Bastille at their local cable or satellite provider, forcing the provider to give in. But he's not taking any chances - STO has, in recent days, published full page ads in local newspapers prompting fans to "call their cable or satellite provider". In a recent Akron Beacon Journal item, Liberatore said he believed all major providers "except one" would be on board by Opening Day...we'll assume that's referring to the "Make Them Play Fair" folks over at Cox Cable.
* Brown notes that FSN Ohio, on the lookout for programming to fill its Indians void, may simulcast Salem sports WKNR/850 Cleveland's "Tenth Inning" postgame show this baseball season. And the PD Sports Media Guru (cough) gets a rise out of 'KNR PD Michael Luczak, when needling him about the length of the station's Cavaliers' post game show. (Trust us, getting reaction from Mr. Luczak is not that difficult.) Luczak tells Brown that listener calls often extend the "Wine and Gold Post Game Show" - "When fans want to keep talking, we want to accommodate them," says Luczak.
Well, here we go, getting Mr. Luczak riled up again right here at OMW. If listener demand is so important, why does the station air infomercials and public service programming most nights after Kenny Roda hits the road-uh? One would expect that a live and local evening show could provide at least some fuel to keep the ball rolling into the Cavs or Indians-themed post game shows.
Considering what airs before them, it's a wonder anyone remembers to punch the car radio button for 850 after the last out or buzzer...and even if the station is not going to mount a local evening show, at least sticking with ESPN Radio's "GameNight" - with frequent promos for the upcoming local post-game show - would be a much better bet than the radio wasteland frequently heard at 7 PM.
OMW certainly understands Salem's financial model, but with that reality, throwing out the "we run the post-game show late because of listener and caller demand" seems a bit disingenous.