BREAKING NEWS: First Indians TV Deal Shoe Drops

The first part of the expected Cleveland Indians TV deal has been officially announced…by broadcast partner WKYC/3.

WKYC reports tonight that they’ve nabbed a 10 year deal to become the Tribe’s over-air TV partner. They’ll air 20 games this coming season. What hadn’t been announced officially until tonight is a new detail…all 20 of those games will be broadcast in high definition and its accompanying Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Indians president Paul Dolan, seen tonight on Channel 3 News at 11, said he’s never actually seen any Indians game in HDTV, and said he’s looking forward to this part of the deal.

The reported in-negotiation deal with Time Warner Cable has not been announced yet, according to this Associated Press article on the Akron Beacon Journal’s website tonight. But some of the other pieces are known – the Indians will be launching their own cable network, which will air 138 of the team’s games in 2006.

WKYC VP/general manager Brooke Spectorsky says the team’s new venture is known (at least as a company) as “Fastball Sports Productions”, and that WKYC will be handling the production for all 158 games for them. (OMW doesn’t expect the “Fastball” name to translate to the new network itself…) The local NBC affiliate says it’ll also air a weekly Indians show and other team-related programming.

There’s no word on any other Time Warner-related details, like if the cable company is going to air games in HDTV. With WKYC producing them for the Indians, and the over-air broadcasts in HDTV, we wouldn’t be surprised to see HDTV games on cable at some point.

With the new deal, WKYC is starting to “strut” as the new “Home of the Indians”, complete with shots of Jacobs Field in dark, cold December…shades of WOIO/19’s “19 Action News” proudly proclaiming it’s the TV home of the Browns…

Oh, and this is almost a footnote considering the above, but the Indians’ Columbus radio affiliate will return…as the Tribe announced that RadiOhio sports WBNS/1460 will once again carry the team’s games for the 2006 and 2007 season. (Thank you to a very helpful OMW tipster for the word on that new deal.)

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