Local Papers Visit SportsTime Ohio At Season Opening

Most of this is old hat if you’re a regular reader of OMW, but Northeast Ohio’s two largest newspapers have weighed in on the progress of new Cleveland Indians’ television network SportsTime Ohio on Opening Day.

The Plain Dealer’s Roger Brown does it twice, in both a separate basic “recap” article, and in his regular Sunday column. That column contains one news nugget – STO’s Jim Liberatore tells Brown that DirecTV will likely sign up with the network “by Monday”. That is what we predicted here in an item just below this…considering the fact that DirecTV is already making a place for the network on one of its regional sports network channels (657), something that hasn’t been noted in either newspaper.

Over in the Beacon Journal, TV columnist R.D. Heldenfels has a meatier item, quoting Liberatore as saying that STO was “past the rate issues” with both Dish Network and DirecTV, hammering out “a lot of little things”. Yes, it appears Heldenfels filed the story on Thursday (when he says the quote was made), and did not update it to include the late Friday news of Dish Network’s signing.

Liberatore has a quote that basically addresses another question of ours from earlier – when he says that carriage of HDTV telecasts of 63 Indians home games is “up to cable operators”. Note, he didn’t say “cable and satellite operators”. And as such, based on an earlier item about a Time Warner Cable/STO newspaper ad, we don’t expect HDTV for STO games on Dish Network and DirecTV.

Widespread local RSN (regional sports network) coverage in HD on satellite is probably a year or two away, anyway, as both services roll out HD “local-into-local” (LIL) channel packages. Cleveland’s HD LIL package from DirecTV is probably coming very soon, perhaps as soon as later this month or by May 1st. But for now, those packages do NOT include HD versions of the regional sports networks.

Oh, and the Beacon’s Sheldon Ocker gets in the game (so to speak). He fires back at an impatient Wooster man concerned – three weeks ago – that no new cable TV affiliation announcements were coming out of SportsTime Ohio. Telling the man that “patience is a virtue”, he notes the changes in the past three weeks…which include, of course, the signup of Wooster’s Clear Picture cable as an STO outlet…

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