The city's most popular professional sports team can't help but make news in media circles. This time, though, the battle's on cable.
OMW hears that the NFL Cleveland Browns have already moved to shore up one part of their local TV rights package. Contingent upon the resolution of the legal dispute between the Browns and Raycom Media's WOIO/19, FOX Sports Net Ohio is signing up with the team as the "Official Cable Home of the Browns".
Since FSN Ohio can't air any actual games - the NFL requires them to be available over-the-air locally - that means the cable outlet will handle a number of weekly team-related programs, headed up by staffers Michael Reghi and Jeff Phelps. Phelps has participated this week on FSN Ohio/WKNR's "Cleveland Rants", as the show has focused on Browns training camp.
Across the cable dial, SportsTime Ohio isn't going away as far as Browns coverage goes, despite losing the "official" label to FSN Ohio. OMW hears that WKYC's Jim Donovan, joined with Tony Grossi, Doug Dieken and former coach Sam Rutigliano, will mount a Browns preview show on STO this year. STO has had daily coverage of events at training camp.
The cable rights battle is not tied to the over-air rights to Browns pre-season games and material, but the FSN Ohio deal will go into effect after the Browns and WOIO wrap up their differences in the latter dispute.
And there's even more big Browns TV news.
The actual pre-season games, whether they air on Channel 19 or somewhere else, will officially have a new analyst's voice.
Medina Gazette/Elyria Chronicle-Telegram sportswriter Brian Dulik reports that as rumored, popular ex-Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar will indeed be in the pre-season TV booth this year as a regular color commentator. (Thank you to an alert OMW reader out west for pointing us to this item!)
Kosar declined to speculate on either the team's home station controversy, or who will be joining him in that booth this year. Last year, the broadcast team settled on veteran play-by-play voice Sam Rosen to join former Browns players Bob Golic (WNIR/100.1) and Brian Brennan. Kosar appeared during one 2005 broadcast as a guest commentator...