RUMOR: DirecTV HD Locals in Cleveland, AND SportsTime Ohio HD

OMW is hearing unconfirmed rumors that Cleveland market DirecTV customers will not only get local stations in HDTV directly from the satellite provider very soon, but also will be able to watch SportsTime Ohio’s Cleveland Indians games in HD.

The last date we heard as possible for the Cleveland locals launch date was June 28th, which would be this Wednesday.

The rumors we’ve heard about SportsTime Ohio say it’ll be one of 15 local RSNs (Regional Sports Networks) DirecTV will start offering to its local-into-local HDTV customers starting July 1st.

OMW also hears that the other local RSN, FOX Sports Ohio, could see its HD telecasts (presumably of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as aired late this past season) added by October.

Nearly all of the RSNs will be “games only”, meaning that a channel’s other programming won’t be fed on the HDTV side of things. New England’s NESN is much further into its HDTV programming, and will reportedly be up 24/7, and one or two others will follow.

As far as Northeast Ohio’s two local sports networks go, of course, “games only” is not a problem because the games are basically their only HD programming, at least for now.

In our conversation with STO chief Jim Liberatore a while back, he told us that the STO HD games “were available” to the satellite providers should they choose to air them.

We’ll also assume that the same geographic restrictions will apply to the HD feed of STO on DirecTV that apply to the regular feed. But, if you’re over in Toledo or up in Erie and see otherwise with an HDTV LIL install, please let us know.

As previously announced, all of DirecTV’s new local HDTV content delivered via satellite will require new MPEG4 equipment. And for the time being, it appears that only the “Big Four” over-air networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) will be sent down in HD as far as the broadcast outlets go…though that’ll likely change down the road, say industry observers…

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