Thursday, November 06, 2008

Small Screen Browns

There are times when the NFL's Cleveland Browns have stumbled in nationally-televised games, so much so that they may have wished the size of the picture to shrink dramatically. A recent big Monday Night Football win over the Giants excepted, of course.

No matter what the local pro football team does tonight, some will indeed watch the game on very small screens.

The Browns play the Denver Broncos tonight in the opener of the NFL Network's Thursday night series. As per usual in these cable/satellite only games, a local over-air outlet will pick up the feed in Cleveland, as Raycom Media MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 will do the honors of airing the NFL Network feed (we presume in HD) tonight.

But the game is also historic, TV-football-wise, another way. It'll be the first NFL game ever to be "phonecast".

Quoting the Wall Street Journal's Matthew Futterman:

For the first time Thursday, a National Football League game -- the Cleveland Browns vs. the Denver Broncos -- will be broadcast on Sprint mobile phones as part of the wireless company's exclusive partnership with the league. That partnership deal is valued at about $500 million over five years.

If you're a Sprint customer wondering how to get this, and what it all costs:

The planned phone-casts are part of Sprint's NFL Mobile Live package, which is available on most Sprint handsets. The package can be purchased for $15 a month, and is also included as part of Sprint's Everything plans that start at $69.99 per month.

$15 a month? Ouch!

Of course, the NFL Network's ongoing carriage problems mean tonight's game won't be available on Time Warner Cable (outside of the Cleveland rebroadcast on WUAB) and other major cable providers.

Though the game will indeed air on cable systems in the Cleveland market via the WUAB simulcast, it's an open question if those in traditional Browns secondary markets (Youngstown, Columbus) will be able to see the game if their cable system doesn't have NFL Network.

WUAB has historic carriage in much of both the Youngstown and Columbus areas, even up into Erie PA, dating back to its days as a regional "superstation". It also basically acts as the Erie market's default MyNetwork TV affiliate, as the network has no affiliate in Erie.

We don't know if the NFL Network folks will force cable systems like Time Warner to black out WUAB tonight outside of the Cleveland market, much like the CBS affiliate in Buffalo did with Canada's CTV, when LIN TV had their dispute with Time Warner.

By the way, we hadn't mentioned it yet, but that dispute is indeed over. LIN TV and Time Warner reached a deal, and the company's stations in Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and other markets are now back on TWC systems.

The NFL's rules do not allow local stations in the cable/satellite games' "secondary" home markets to air the games locally, so no Youngstown, Columbus or Erie station will directly pick up the game...


Chuck Matthews Blog said...

Thankfully i have Buckeye Cable here in Huron/Sandusky. I get WUAB AND NFL Net.

Lovin' it!

Energy said...

Here in Columbus I have NFL network with WOW!, but they don't have an agreement to show the live games. WOW! stopped carrying WUAB a while back. I guess they don't let the secondary markets pick up the games as a bargaining chip to get providers to sign up. The NFL is just too damn greedy.

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

re: NFL and greed.

It's called capitalism.

The NFL isn't sport, it's business.

Mitch said...

I live in Erie and watched the game on WUAB. Considering it was supposed to be blacked out. Don't get it, but whatever.

Anonymous said...

Youngstown doesn't carry WUAB anymore for the most part...since the dawn of MyYTV.