Our Latest TV Rant: Fox Sports Net Ohio

The folks at Reserve Square can rest easy this weekend.

This time, OMW’s TV sights turn to Fox Sports Net Ohio, which is the sole host of Cleveland Indians local TV games. (Though we note that Fox’s WJW/8 is in the running to pick up over-air broadcasts of any Indians playoff games.)

It’s not that we have any major problems with the game broadcasts themselves. The FSN Ohio crew is professional, and the on-air talent is fine as well. Our problem – FSN Ohio as a whole seems to be an afterthought, and has no major local (non-game) sports programming. Its sole purpose appears to be to carry the games of the Indians and Cavaliers, and not much else…aside from pre-game shows for both, and pre-game and post-game shows for the Indians.

And those shows have almost a spartan feel to them. As far as we know, FSN Ohio has no studio facilities, so everyone (and we mean everyone) is just positioned in front of cameras at the ballpark. It’s like, “we’re already here, we may as well do a recap anyway!”

Compare that to FSN down in Pittsburgh, which is one of the better sports operations in that market. FSN Pittsburgh produces a nightly sports-news roundup at 10 PM, and has a live, nightly sports talk show with market veteran Stan Savran (who also does a show on, if we remember right, Clear Channel sports WBGG/970 “Fox Sports 970”). They most assuredly have more off-game programming than we’re listing here.

At FSN Ohio, as far as we know, the network does no regular Cleveland sports programming outside the above mentioned game coverage. There’s no weekly Browns show. There’s no weekly Indians show. There’s no Cavaliers show. We caught a preview show for Ohio State football after the Indians game tonight (they won, by the way), but it appears to be produced and actually paid for by the university itself…and is likely produced somewhere in the WOSU/34 complex in Columbus.

It’s no wonder, then, that OMW never sees FSN Ohio, except for after 7 PM weeknights.

With the Indians red hot these days, and blasting towards a playoff berth, a smart network would try to take advantage of that outside the game’s time slot. It appears FSN Ohio has no plans to do so, or to hook onto the rebuilding Browns’ season. It’s a lost opportunity, and the local FSN operation either just doesn’t have the money (or facilities), just doesn’t care, or both.

We’re not expecting 24/7 local sports programming, of course. We’re just wondering why there is NOTHING else besides the game coverage and pre/post-game shows.

OMW feels obligated to note that FSN Pittsburgh is actually today’s version of KBL, the original local sports network in that market. KBL had some local programming back in the day. But FSN Ohio grew out of SportsChannel Ohio, which also had some local programming. The most obvious example is Les Levine’s sports talk show, which eventually got kicked off FSN and landed on Cablevision’s local system (now Adelphia, soon to be Time Warner). It never should have left. And frankly, we’d love to see Les get a set that doesn’t look like a cable access show…

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