And Still More On The Indians TV Rights Battle

The negotiations over the Cleveland Indians’ TV contract should theoretically be winding down, but there’s still more to write about.

This time, it’s Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown who weighs in again…and unlike some past columns, this includes a direct quote from Fox Sports Net Ohio’s Steve Liverani. The FSN Ohio GM tells Brown that the Indians are basically not interested in returning to his cable network, and for one reason…they want to “manage and control their own coverage”.

It’s a growing trend in sports broadcasting. Clubs are, more and more, taking the production of their own telecasts and radio broadcasts in-house. The NFL’s Washington Redskins may be the biggest example…they produce EVERYTHING for both their local TV partner, and radio’s WJFK-FM and its network.

As has been speculated here and elsewhere, the scenario means that the broadcasts will likely be split between current reported frontrunner WKYC/3, and cable’s Ohio News Network (ONN), which Mr. Brown once again realizes is not owned by the state of Ohio. (Sorry, we’re getting a lot of mileage out of that one.) But the broadcasts would be produced by the Indians, no matter which broadcast or cable outlet has the rights.

This opens up some of what we’ve speculated about here. If the Indians are producing and distributing the broadcasts, it would be a fairly simple thing for them to add games on Time Warner’s cable channel 23 next season. By that time, TWC’s local operations will officially include nearly all Cleveland area cable homes, with their upcoming purchase of the local Adelphia and Comcast operations. And with WKYC/3 as the over-air rightsholder, they’d be the “bridge” to TWC 23, where they already have an agreement to air “Akron/Canton News” weeknights at 6:30 and 9.

Again, this is just our own speculation, and we have not even rumor to suggest that it’s happening. It just seems likely from this corner. It’s already being done in San Diego, where the Padres and Cox Cable produce the “Padres 4” channel.

We’re kind of repeating ourselves here, but we wanted to get all these ducks in a row immediately before any announcement on this topic.

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