That STO/DirecTV Twist

Despite having a deal with DirecTV, only about 275 to 300 thousand of the service’s subscribers in the Cleveland Indians viewing area will actually be able to see the Tribe on SportsTime Ohio…according to an article by Paul Hoynes in today’s Plain Dealer. The article quotes STO chief Jim Liberatore as saying the deal brings STO into 2.6 million cable and satellite homes in the market.

We’ve unraveled more of the quirky deal that STO reached yesterday with DirecTV, and we still don’t get the “why” of it, aside from it apparently being based on finances. But here’s what we do know:

* The deal only covers two of four “zones” for DirecTV’s viewing area that matches up with the Indians’ TV “footprint”. Those are zones 1 and 2. If your ZIP code is off of the list we published below, you won’t be able to see the Tribe take on the Chicago White Sox this afternoon on DirecTV channel 657. Zones 1 and 2 apparently include the bulk of the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area, and the bulk of the Columbus area. Zones 3 and 4? Everything else.

* In addition to giving folks a number to call if they’re affected, SportsTime Ohio is giving out an E-Mail address for a DirecTV staff member – eryan (at DirecTV – the usual dot-com address – we’re trying to protect poor Mr. or Ms. Ryan from spambots). The numbers are 800-494-4388 for residential subscribers, or 888-200-4388 for commercial subscribers. Tribe fans outside the two “inner” zones are urged to call or E-Mail…because they will not get the games at ALL, even in the “Extra Innings” pack for those living outside the home team’s market area.

It appears to us that STO’s Liberatore was faced with a choice – stay firm about making the games available to the entire team viewing region, and be forced to go without ANY DirecTV subscribers picking up the games before the first regular season game…or accept this deal so DirecTV subscribers in the bulk of the team’s viewing area can see the games. They’re getting some heat from DirecTV viewers outside Cleveland/Akron/Canton/Columbus, but imagine the heat they’d get if NO DirecTV viewers were aboard!

We still think at SOME point, perhaps even this season, the other “zones” will be brought into the fold. It’s easier to work from an existing relationship, than from the outside.

And a plug for someone who gave us some help understanding this. He’s “Moohead”, host of the Internet radio show/podcast Moohead Radio. As near as we can tell, the man known as Marc Steenbarger when he’s not four-legging it is a former radio station owner in markets in Michigan and New York State…and a long-time Cleveland sports fan.

On his Monday show, he said he felt almost like he was a part of the negotiations, taking E-Mail and calls from both STO and DirecTV while the talks were going on. (Trust us, Moo, we’ve been there more than once on other topics.)

Anyway, Moo/Marc seemed to be “plugged in”, and he’s given us some insight we may not have already had. His one-hour afternoon Internet radio show (live 5-6 PM Eastern and podcast) is worth checking out…and at least he doesn’t eat while the microphone is open…

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