SportsTime Ohio Lines Up Youngstown Broadcast Partner, Announces Columbus Cable Coverage

It looks like Piedmont FOX affiliate WYFX in Youngstown (WYFX-LP 62 Youngstown/WFXI-CA 17 Mercer PA) will be the broadcast affiliate for Cleveland Indians baseball in the Youngstown/Warren TV market.

It looks like that to us, because an alert reader tipped us to this short line on the WYFX online schedule web page:

“Coming in April, FOX17/62 Cleveland Indians Exclusive!”

FOX, of course, carries Major League Baseball games, and we believe there are currently two Indians’ games on their national schedule so far for 2006. But we don’t believe WYFX would trumpet this solely based upon the nationally-telecast Indians games.

The move could mean that there will not be any HDTV over-air coverage for Indians games in Youngstown. FOX 17/62 is a pair of low-power TV stations without HD capability. Indeed, WYFX’s “big brother” station, CBS affiliate WKBN/27, does not even have ITS digital TV station up and running…though OMW hears that the station’s engineering staff is working hard to bring WKBN-DT online, and hopes to have it going by May 1st.

When WKBN-DT comes up, it’ll carry the FOX 17/62 signal on a SD subchannel, but the HD capability will be for the main WKBN channel…unless WKBN/WYFX is going to make changes to allow the HD Indians games to air on the WKBN-DT feed. That, we don’t know at this time. It’d presumably be possible for WKBN itself to air at least some Indians games if there are no problems with CBS preemption. And Youngstown market viewers with Time Warner Cable will be able to watch that service’s 63 HDTV contests.

WKBN-DT will air at full, authorized power…which means that even viewers in the Akron/Canton area and Cleveland’s southeast suburbs may have a chance of receiving it. Just the same, some Trumbull County viewers could be able to receive HD Indians coverage via STO broadcast flagship WKYC in Cleveland..assuming they can do the same antenna matching that many Cleveland market digital TV viewers have to do with WKYC-DT on digital channel 2.

As for cable, the Indians and SportsTime Ohio announced Time Warner Cable’s mid-Ohio (Columbus) plan for the airing of the new network. It’ll air during the first five spring training games on basic service cable channel 24 as a preview, then STO will move to TWC Mid-Ohio standard service channel 34 for the rest of the season.

Where TWC’s Northeast Ohio system will air STO have not yet been announced, but in Columbus, the move will open a channel solely for the new Indians network. That may hold significance here in Northeast Ohio. It had been believed that Indians games via STO would air on TWC Northeast Ohio’s local programming channel (position 23), but such an airing would cause problems for the WKYC-produced “Akron/Canton News”, which airs on that channel weeknights at 6:30 and 10 PM. A different channel for STO would solve that problem.

The STO high-definition broadcasts of Indians games will air on the TWC Mid-Ohio system on cable channel 752.

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