Sunday, August 16, 2009

Seeing The Browns - Or Not

All of Northeast Ohio's television viewers got to see (endure, be tortured by) the Cleveland Browns preseason opener on Saturday, a quickly-forgettable tilt with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the local broadcast via Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 and its regional network of stations.

This coming weekend, Browns fans may not be able to see their team play the Detroit Lions - unless they're sitting in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Yes, there is still the possibility that the local NFL franchise could see its first local TV blackout since "the new Browns" started up in 1999, as an expansion team that took the name, colors and record history of the city's storied professional football franchise.

Since 1999, the "returned" Browns have often been awful. But no matter how awful they've been, even preseason games have sold out...allowing local TV rightsholders to show home games with no problem.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tony Grossi has an update on the situation today:

Through Friday, they had less than 5,000 tickets left for the exhibition home opener on Saturday against Detroit. If they are not sold by Wednesday's 72-hour blackout deadline, the game will not be shown live.

And for that matter, Grossi notes that Browns TV voices Jim Donovan and Bernie Kosar may not need to show up at all if the game is not sold out:

It's also possible the game won't be televised on a delayed basis by WKYC Channel 3. The station is reviewing its options.

(Of course, if there ends up being no TV broadcast, Donovan would presumably slide over to his usual role as the Browns Radio Network's play-by-play voice. Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 sports director Mike Snyder takes the radio reins when Donovan does TV work.)

The team blames the poor economy for the lack of preseason sales - not a difficult target when the economy really does stink nationwide, and certainly here in Northeast Ohio.

But for that matter, "stink" is an adequate description for the Browns. After a 17-0 embarrassment at the hands of the Packers on Saturday, who could blame someone for not shelling out his or her hard-earned-money to watch the Browns and Lions in person on Saturday?

The team is selling all tickets for 50% off, and has launched a heavily promoted $99 "Family Four Pack" promotion, aiming to fill those empty seats - including game tickets, food and the like. In the current situation, that price seems like it's about $99 too high.

The Browns local preseason TV network this season includes New Vision/Parkin ABC affiliate WYTV/33 Youngstown and Dispatch CBS affiliate WBNS/10 Columbus. If the games air in Toledo, Dayton or Lima, we couldn't find listings for them last night. It looks like former Toledo Browns preseason TV network affiliate - low-power MyNetwork TV affiliate WMNT-CA/48 "My 58" - has gone with the Detroit Lions' network this year.

If the Lions game isn't sold out by Wednesday, the other stations won't be showing the game live, either...or at all, apparently...


andrew727 said...

The owners of the Cleveland Browns have been shooting themselves in the foot by poor draft and free agent picks for awhile now, holding on to some players and a certain coach for longer than they should...does the name Tim Couch ring a bell? How long can one root for a team and buy season tickets for owners and and players who don't perform - the players for the last couple of seasons looked like they showed up for their pay, not to play. Even the last coach pretty hung it up in his last season - he knew he was on the choping block, so he didn't even try to coach...some say he never did. The Brown's organization are going to have to work very hard and very sharp. I really don't know how they pick their players, but I have a suggestion. In looking for rookies, the Browns should look at all players aspiring to make an NFL team by working backwards all the way to the individuals' junior high school varsity days. Hopefully someone has developed a software analysis program where each players stats can be broken down based on various catagories. I'll admit, their playing performance is the top consideration. However, I'd also want to know their scolastic scores all the way from kindergarden forward if possible. Lets face it, a consistantly smart individual is going to make a better player. Next concern is the player's criminal background - we've seen some guys who are nothing but goons in the past. When I say 'background' check, I mean how many times have these guys been pulled over for DUI's and stuff. How consistant are these players in making the right decisions once a play is in action. Granted, its a lot of work, however, maybe the team can get volunteers from college and football coaches in the 'off-season' to do the research footwork needed to put together data on each player planning to play in the NFL. Doing that will allow the team to pick more promising players just out of college. As to 'free agents', knowing what's out there in deep background detail would help. It's doubtful Cleveland has a big enough wallet to hire the top-notch football player, so research is needed getting the young promising player at a lower price tag. As to the stations, well they are going to have to 'bite the bullet' in the upcoming season if the first Browns pre-season game turns out to be consistant harbinger for regular season play. Get those reruns for 'Gilligan's Island' ready for local team 'blackouts' in the season ahead. After all, why would one want to spend big bucks for a ticket in sub-zero weather if one knows there's a good chance the team will lose. Realize I am a Cleveland Browns fan, however, I'm not into watching teams lose week-after-week. One sign a player is not willing to give his all, are those that are late to preseason practice. Those clowns should be traded at season's end!

- Andrew, -

andrew727 said...

Okay, first lets establish the fact I’m a Cleveland Browns fan. Good season or bad, I would never switch my loyalty to another team as long as the Cleveland Browns are an NFL team. For the broadcasters, this has got to be a rough time. The Browns have not been a very good team in their new incarnation as an expansion team. The blame for team performance can be shared evenly between the Browns front office, the coach and individual team players themselves. Something tells me the stations in Northeast Ohio should get those episodes of ’Gilligan’s Island’ spooled up on the tape machines for a lot of blacked-out local games. People, no matter how loyal are not going to put up premium bucks for games they expect the team will lose - I mean how many intelligent individuals are going to want to endure sitting in the open air stands at twenty degrees below zero to watch a game they suspect the Browns are bound to bomb - especially in this economy. Here’s the thing, it seems the Browns front office really lack when it comes to homework in picking both rookies and free agents. Another is the Browns organization seem to hold on to bad players way beyond a reasonable length of time…anyone remember Tim Couch? For that matter, they are not always cognizant in picking head coaches either. I really don’t know the criteria the Cleveland Browns use in picking players or coaches. The last coach proved a horrid choice. I mean the guy looked like he was phoning the plays in along with the players. Got a suggestion for the Browns organization - do your homework, have a thought-out strategy ahead of time in case you can’t get your prime choices. Throwing stuff against the fans to see what sticks is not a good alternative procedure. Obvious by now, the Brown’s front office research methods are simply not working. Being blown-out in their first preseason game is not a good omen. So lets offer a few suggestions here. First, research every player who has applied to the NFL as a rookie. Go into their individual past, all the way to their first Junior High School varsity days and every game going forward to their last college game. Sure, you want to know the teams they played for, but more important, their individual efforts for the team. One needs also to look at their scholastic scores from kindergarten forward if possible. Look for long term consistency. Do a complete criminal background check, including the number of DUI’s along the way. On this last one, do it for the potential free agents as well. The idea is the most consistent player with the best academic records and the least jail time is going to be a better player. The guy who has an alcohol and/or drug problem along with a poor academic performance over the long run is not going to be a sharp rookie. The Browns players need to have the ability to be good observers in real time and the ability to adjust plays after the ball is snapped. Play books may help in prepping for a game, but once play is in motion, one needs to be in the moment. That’s awfully hard to do in season after partying the night before. Even the ’free agents’ need to have a complete background check to avoid embarrassing moments for the team - like the guy who plowed down a pedestrian during the off season. Deep research takes a lot of effort, and those doing the homework need the intellect to be at the top of their game. I’d suggest volunteer college and high school coaches in the area to work as a team in putting together the data needed to make good decisions as to rookie players and potential head coaches. The data should be interactive to avoid duplication. As fans, we deserve a wining team with potential. Realize the Browns don’t have as big a wallet like the New York Jets or the Green Bay Packers, therefore, we need to work smart.

- Andrew, -

Ohio Media Watch said...


I'll go ahead and release your comments here, but please remember that this is a blog about media, not about football. :)

Though, you (from my limited knowledge) make some good points.

-The Management

J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

I think we in Cincy may be needing to do the same thing...except it won't be spool the Gilligan episodes, it'll be just show the regular CBS schedule on August 27.

As of last check, they still had seats at the east end of the stadium available for the game against the St. Louis Rams a week from Thursday. And these are $82.00, sideline seats! I'll let my readers know what's up...

Anonymous said...

The game will most likely be on WKYC live.

If the number of unsold tickets is low, the station often purchased the remaining tickets just to get the game on television. The cost of purchasing the tickets was made back by the advertising revenue generated by the game (remember that even through the worst times Browns football ratings are through the roof). In addition, the Browns have lowered the price of the tickets in an attempt to get people buying the tickets.

In a worst-case scenario where they don't sell out and WKYC does not broadcast the game on tape-delay, the game will still air on NFL Network on a delayed basis. NFL Network will usually use the feeds from both local stations (home and away), but if WKYC pulls out of the game, then the network will use the feed from the Detroit station (I believe WWJ is their broadcaster) for the entire game.

Ohio Media Watch said...


Yeah, I tend to think that there's enough time with three days, and under 5,000 unsold tickets. WKYC will lose a bundle if the game isn't on...and they're probably just waiting out the ticket sales.

Then, they can swoop in on Wednesday and look like the hero for saving the game. :) (Though as badly as the Browns are playing, maybe it's more of a public service to keep them off live TV.)

The point to all this is that we're not used to this dance with the Browns. The games have been reliable sellouts since 1999. All of 'em. Even the worst.

Of course, the old Cleveland Stadium had a much larger capacity than the current facility (73K vs. 45K), but that place sold out many times. And in the mid-80's, I presume it sold out every single game.

bad economy...rancid team...preseason we go.

-The Management

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

Most likely the Lions game will be carried in Toledo on WMNT-TV/My58, as they were last year. * WMNT is a former client of mine.

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

Here's the WMNT-TV/Toledo website.

They carry Lions pre-season games, which will include the Lions/Browns game Sat Aug 22.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Yep, Chuck, as I said, it looks like your old client is on the Lions network this year - the listing Saturday had them running the Lions preseason game, and thanks for pointing us to the web page! (I keep forgetting they HAVE one.)

So, Toledo folks will still get to watch the game (assuming they get the station, via Buckeye 58 or OTA). But they won't see Jim Donovan and Bernie Kosar...

-The Management

ohiobiz said...

From the Cleveland area with a decent antenna pointed to the Northwest and the atmospheric conditions are right - WWJ is one of the stronger Detroit signals to pick up directly off the air.

Shawn said...

Actually the new/current Browns' stadium has a seating capacity 73,000+. The 45,000 figure is capacity at Progressive (nee - Jacobs) Field.

I too thought about the old habit of the local affiliate buying up the remaining tickets, BUT, that's typically for regular season games where the network and the NFL are paying the production costs. The difference in this situation is that since its a pre-season game, WKYC is on the hook for the production costs, if ad revenue is low, and costs are too high, given Gannett's well-documented financial troubles, it might be wiser for Channel 3 to just sit this one out.

Anonymous said...


A couple of things to remember.

Although if they do show the game WKYC is on the hook for the production costs (rumored to be about $90,000, those costs will drop if they don't do the game at all.

In addition, remember that with the preseason games ALL of the advertising is local (and WKYC may also pull in some advertising revenue from the four affiliates on their network). With a regular season game, most of the advertisements are provided by the network. Hence, it would make better financial sense for WKYC to purchase the tickets (which they subsequently decided to do).

In following the AVS Forum and the DBS message boards, some local stations have deciced against doing the home games of their NFL franchises. In their cases, the games are nowhere close to being sellouts, and the games do not draw as much in terms of local ratings compared to that of Cleveland. In their cases, it is in their financial interests to bow out.