Though we can't find a release about it yet, an E-Mailed newsletter from STO chief Jim Liberatore notes the news that Cox and Comcast's local systems will carry the network, and both have now been listed on STO's website. The site says Cox will carry STO on channel 58 and HD games on channel 758, and that Comcast will carry STO on channel 73.
The deal means that only Wide Open West and Armstrong Cable have yet to reach a deal among the larger cable systems in the immediate Cleveland area...along with other area systems like Wooster's Clear Picture and sister Massillon Cable. Liberatore says those systems, along with Columbus provider Insight, "continue to work with us".
On the satellite side, though a DirecTV spokesman told the Plain Dealer's Roger Brown that the satellite service is "slightly more optimistic" it might reach a deal with SportsTime Ohio, there's still no word that an agreement is near. STO is also apparently talking to Dish Network, but that service's history with new regional sports networks leads us to believe they will not agree to carry STO this year.
In his E-Mail newsletter, sent to people who've contacted STO via their website, Liberatore notes that the two satellite services "need to hear from viewers or will assume there is no interest"...and points out that DirecTV's representative in the talks with the network/team is in Denver. Presumably, the Tribe isn't as popular there...
We also note that STO has signed up the tiny "CableSuite 541" system in the Conneaut area.
We've copied the entire newsletter below...it's long, so be prepared to scroll a lot...
Thank you for contacting SportsTime Ohio.
We apologize for not getting back to you sooner. We understand that fans are anxious to see Indians baseball on SportsTime Ohio, and we share your anticipation for the 2006 season. As a fan myself, I do understand that no one likes it when the "business" of baseball has any adverse effect on fully realizing the "joy" of baseball, especially in Cleveland. With that said, this situation is unfortunately reality and we are working diligently to quickly return to topics such as if a fielder can pick up the one-hopper or if a batter can pick up the ball off the pitchers hand, not if your cable operators will pick up the games themselves.
SportsTime Ohio is responsible for the current situation in as much as there was no absolute necessity to create a new network. Please keep in mind however why this was done. The network was created in hopes of increasing profitability enabling the team to compete economically with the New York's and Boston's of the world. At the same time, the new network will offer the best possible production the industry has to offer. Both of these goals are already being played out as the Indians payroll has increased resigning many of the young players who make up the core and future of the team. On the production front, the Dolan's have committed a huge increase in production dollars by offering 83 games in high definition, using eleven camera's for all home games, (as many as or more than any other team in the country including a high def, robotic camera on the backstop), and greatly enhancing the Indians pre-game. The overall expectation of improving the teams ability to keep and compete with the big markets for the best available players, as well as the vastly increased quality of coverage were in the end, the reasons the network was created.
With that said, we are working diligently with your cable operator to finalize these deals as fast as possible. Most recently we have signed both Comcast and Cox in addition to Time Warner, Adelphia, Buckeye, TSC, RTEC, Doylestown, The City of Wadsworth, GLW Broadband, Cablesuite 541 and BTC. All other cable systems continue to work with us including Massillon, WOW, Armstrong, Insight and others.
The satellite providers continue the dialogue with us but are going to wait and see what response they get from their customers. Some of your e-mails have referred to SportsTime Ohio as appearing to ask you to "do our work" when we request you call the various cable/satellite companies. I understand how that may appear, however the truth is, they need to hear from viewers or will assume that there is no interest. Indians fans like you do play a major role in this process by letting your provider know that you want to see the Tribe games on SportsTime Ohio as soon as possible. This will reinforce to your provider the overwhelming popularity of the Tribe and will help convince them to carry the channel. (Please know for example, the Direct TV representative we deal with is in Denver).
Unfortunately, if your provider is not carrying the Indians games, I can't tell you an exact date that SportsTime Ohio will be available on your cable system or satellite provider. However, we continue to talk with the providers that have not signed up, and most carriers have responded favorably to our offer. We expect to have at least 90 percent of the cable universe covered by Opening Day, 4/4.
On a few other questions we received:
We do expect that the "Extra Innings" outer market package will still carry Indians games outside of the Indians home territory.
Visit www.sportstimeohio.com and select your cable or satellite provider from the list shown. If your operator is carrying SportsTime Ohio at this time, channel information will appear in the information box below the list of providers.
All of SportsTime Ohio's home games will be produced in high definition. It is at your cable /satellite provider's discretion to determine if the game will be broadcast in HD.
Indians games will be available in closed captioning.
STO will cover Indians Minor league teams with programming but unless there is a very compelling situation or game, will most likely not broadcast the games themselves.
We are working through some audio issues with our technical engineers and hope to have them resolved by our next telecast on March 29th. The score line at the top of the screen has been moved up.
I think that covers most of your questions. Please feel free to keep them coming and be assured that we will keep you informed of our progress.
Thank you for your input, please know we will be sure to let you know as new providers sign up to carry the Indians.
Thanks and Go Tribe!
President SportsTime Ohio
Miami University '85
Bay Village High '80
Indians Fan Since '62!