Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More STO, And DirecTV

In our rush to put up the item on the new SportsTime Ohio show to be fronted by local sports personality Bruce Drennan, we didn't outline some of the other changes at the network which adopts "full-time" status on April 1.

Among them: three new shows.

Former WKYC and FSN Ohio staffer Andy Baskin's "Totally Tribe" will be on the STO schedule. As reported earlier, Baskin is producing the show from his own new production shingle, Over The Falls Productions.

Veteran local sports voice Al Pawlowski (Cleveland State Vikings radio play-by-play) joins up with former Indians player Brian Anderson for "The Tribe Report", and the network also announced a new show called "The High School Sports Insider".

Going beyond STO's press release, Akron Beacon Journal sportswriter George M. Thomas shares what seems to be a policy change for SportsTime Ohio in an article in Wednesday's newspaper.

STO chief Jim Liberatore tells Thomas that the network will start airing some minor league baseball broadcasts. They'll apparently start at the top, with the Indians' top minor league club, the AAA Buffalo Bisons, along with coverage of the AAA Columbus Clippers (an affiliate of the Washington Nationals these days, it would appear).

Future telecasts of the two immediately local minor league clubs - the double-A Akron Aeros and the single-A Lake County Captains - are also possible.

We call it a "policy change" because Liberatore downplayed the possibility of these kinds of games airing on the network when STO first started, saying the network would certainly cover the Indians' farm teams, but wasn't likely to air full games.

But you can only play repeats of "classic games", earlier live games and other shows so often for a 24/7 schedule, we guess.

Oh, and about DirecTV.

OMW stumbled upon this massive update (for 2007) of SportsTime Ohio's "411" about the satellite provider.

And the "update" is actually "no change". Again this year, the network will not be carried on DirecTV in outer areas of the Indians' TV territory. Quoting:

DirecTV has informed SportsTime Ohio that they will once again limit our coverage area. Nothing has changed since the 2006 baseball season, which had many Cleveland Indians baseball fans living without STO and our Cleveland Indians telecasts. DirecTV will only offer STO in the Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown areas.

This means DirecTV viewers outside of Northeast Ohio or the Columbus area, but still considered in part of the Indians' territory by Major League Baseball, will again not get the team's games on STO. As in 2006, Dish Network will air STO to the entire Indians region, as will the cable systems that have signed up for the channel.

On the "411" page, STO says it's had "continuous discussions" about the stance over the past year...but apparently, with no fruit. It also helpfully gives links to Dish Network, and participating STO cable affiliates in the affected areas.

Given this voluminous page, it appears unlikely that DirecTV subscribers outside of Northeast Ohio will get STO again in 2007...nor will customers who sign up for out-of-market regional sports network packages to get companion sports programming.

And like last year, DirecTV customers in those affected areas will also be blacked out of Indians games on Major League Baseball's "Extra Innings" package...


Anonymous said...

Is DirecTV guilty of cutting off its subscribers to spite the Indians? Would it be better business to give the customers what they want?

Brian said...

It's a money thing. DirecTV has taken a hard line with local Sports channels in terms of fees.

They are willing to add the Indians to a Sports Package but from what I've read the Indians want their channel to be part of the basic package for all customers. Problem is that last year the STO package wasn't a 24/7 channel so DirecTV felt the Indians wanted to much money to add the channel to the basic lineup.

If STO generates serious ratings on Dish and Cable and/or DirecTV is able to verify the loss of enough subs because of their stance you can bet; they'll be back at the table.

On the other hand, STO needs the viewers for their advertisers. I can't imagine the car dealerships,etc that advertise on STO aren't happy the channel isn't in more homes and I'm sure they're pressuring STO to make a deal with DirecTV.

in truth this is good for DirecTV customers because the goal is to add the channel without having to raise monthly rates.

If every cable network got DirecTV, Dish, TimeWarner, etc to pay their asking price -- we'd all be paying even more for our monthly service.

This is the biggest reason the FCC is pushing for the Cable and Sat companies to offer ala carte.

The cable networks don't want Ala Carte because currently they force the Satellite and Cable companies to buy their channels in groups.

Example. If you want ESPN you also have to buy ESPN2, ESPN News, ESPN Classic, ESPN College.

Or if you want MTV you also have to buy Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Noggin, VH-1, VH-1 Classic, MT2, TVland, etc.

This is why we have so many channels and why are bills have gotten so high.

Do we really need the Biography Channel? You're paying for it whether you want it or not.

How about Sleuth or Lifetime Woman Real Stories, etc?

The cable networks add these channels that are very niche and then force the service providers to add it to the lineup with the added fee.

Dish, DirecTV, and TimeWarner are starting to play tough. Dish recently took CourtTV off their service based on new higher fees.