Our apologies for much of our absence today.
No, we don't fly around town with a big red "OMW" on our chest, protecting the Northeast Ohio region against radio and TV crime. Sometimes, our life is as mundane as waiting for a tow truck at a local supermarket. But at any rate, we're back and picking up today's pieces, starting with Roger Brown...
Though the Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist has yet to report that FSN Ohio is signing up as the "Official Cable Home of the Browns" (seen here first, and exclusively, on Thursday), he's hot on the trail of something we had not yet heard.
Roger reports that FSN Ohio is talking with the Cleveland Cavaliers about local TV exclusivity starting in the 2008-2009 season, in a proposed multi-year deal. Through the end of the 2007-2008 season, the NBA team's rights are being shared between FSN and Raycom Media's WUAB/43 "My 43" (UPN -> My Network TV).
It's the direction the Cleveland Indians went away from...dumping FSN Ohio's exclusive contract this year in favor of starting the team's own cable outlet SportsTime Ohio, which also airs games on NBC affiliate WKYC/3. STO has presumably also been interested in talking with the Cavaliers, as the new network is fighting with FSN Ohio for all the programming it can get.
Mr. Brown also quotes "local TV insiders" as predicting the sun is going to rise. Er, sorry, that the Cleveland Browns will buy their way out of the legal dispute with current-at-the-moment TV partner WOIO/19, the CBS sister station of WUAB.
We've gone on record as saying that 19's basically stalling to keep the four 2006 pre-season games on the air, with that suit filed aimed at stopping the Browns from pulling the plug. The court process alone is likely to do that, as all four games air in August.
After that, pretty much anyone who looks at this thing with a brain cell believes that Randy Lerner and company will cut a check to buy the team's way out of the contract beyond this year's pre-season. WOIO would get its money, it would still be airing the regular season Browns games via its CBS affiliation anyway, and the team gets a clean break for 2007.
And we're not even a "TV insider", unless Roger's reading our writings...
Roger also notes that the NFL Network is apparently going away on the lineups of local Adelphia and Comcast subscribers, when the two systems get folded into the Time Warner Northeast Ohio Empire next week. (Mr. Brown does not mention that the Browns/Steelers contest on NFL Network later this year WILL air locally on an over-air station yet to be named.)
OMW also hears that a couple of other networks go away at least for us soon-to-be-ex-Adelphians - like ESPNU, and ESPN2's HD feed. But Adelphia folks will also gain some, including the HDTV/digital feed of WUAB/43, and TNT HD.
NFL Network is mounting an advertising blitz aimed at Time Warner and other systems which have not yet picked up the network...