Browns Preseason: Week 3

OMW realizes that WOIO/19 is basically an easy target. We’re trying, as we continue to grow this blog, not to take too many pot shots at the local CBS affiliate…even if they deserve pretty much all of them.

So, we’ll open our look at the third Browns preseason TV telecast on a positive note.

* The team of Sam Rosen, Bob Golic and Brian Brennan is meshing well. And in his second week as a “co-analyst”, after the disaster that was week one’s play-by-play role, former Browns defensive lineman and WNIR afternoon host Golic was insightful, not just funny. For the first time this preseason, we got “off camera” information that really helped to understand what was going on, on the field between the Browns and the Carolina Panthers. (But, don’t lose the humor, Bob! Especially if a game turns into a blowout, which we worry will happen a lot this season with the Browns, the humor is darn near necessary to keep people watching.) Golic wasn’t perfect this week – for one, he didn’t realize until being corrected by Brennan that having too few men on the field wouldn’t result in a penalty – but it was, in general, a solid effort.

* 19 Action News anchor Sharon Reed turned in a pretty solid sideline performance, with much less of the fluff we saw from her in week one. 19 sports director Chuck Galeti also did well. Someone must have gotten out the word that actual, well, information was key, not just self-promoting and clowning. Good work.

All in all, it was a decent performance for WOIO in its third game as the Browns preseason home.

But – and you knew there’d be a but, didn’t you? – there was one thing that bothered us, and it had nothing to do with the on-air performance of the massive WOIO Browns Coverage Team.

At OMW World Domination Headquarters in northwest Akron, we have digital cable and high-definition service from Adelphia. Though we actually haven’t managed to buy a full-fledged HDTV set, we always watch shows on the digital/HD channel wherever possible, since the picture quality is outstanding even on our 32″ Toshiba analog set…being fed from the cable box (Scientific Atlanta 8000HD) in down-converted 480i via a component video link. (If you don’t understand any of that, trust us, it looks good.)

But of all the local over-air digital TV stations, WOIO-DT always looks the worst, when it comes to airing upconverted SD (standard definition) programming. We suspect some of this is because WOIO apparently has no digital equipment in its Reserve Square studios (SD, HD or whatever), and that it takes the final analog output from its switcher and feeds it directly into the upconverter. The result, and 19’s general picture settings, means a washed out picture even in digital mode…which looks like someone there turned up the contrast way too high.

In the Browns game broadcast last night, the WOIO-DT version showed some problems with the upconverting from analog to digital. It was intermittent, but at times, live action looked like it was off in terms of the frame rate, and the video almost took on a film quality…or at least, it appeared even the live action was run through the same filter stations use to produce promos of stutter-stepping football players.

It didn’t last the entire game, but it was enough at one point to drive OMW to Adelphia’s analog cable channel 4.

We’re told by others that this is an ongoing problem with WOIO-DT, and has been seen in other programming, including “19 Action News”. (Note: When WOIO’s digital signal reproduces CBS’s prime time HDTV programming, it looks fine. And more good news for HDTV fans – OMW has learned that CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” will broadcast in high-definition starting on Monday!)

And our final Browns preseason TV note: this word on the ratings for week one and two, courtesy of the Browns media staff:

“Despite a 90-minute inclement weather delay in the preseason opener against the New York Giants on August 13th, the game, which began at 8 p.m. and did not end until after midnight, had a 15.4 rating and a 29 share.

The second game in Detroit against the Lions on August 20th kicked-off at 1 p.m. and produced a 15.9 rating and 39 share, which was the highest rated show that day by 50%.

Both games were the highest rated television program in the city of Cleveland each week.”

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