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Indians Sell Regional Network SportsTime Ohio to Fox Sports for Reported $230 Million

STO will continue to carry Indians broadcasts in 2013 while Fox will retain the Indians’ television rights for the next 10 years

 

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The Cleveland Indians have finalized a deal to sell their regional sports network SportsTime Ohio (STO) to Fox Sports. The deal was made official on Friday and will give the Indians a reported $40 million per season in television rights for the next 10 years, an overall increase of $70 million over their current television deal. The additional revenue that was generated with the deal provided the club with a portion of the money that was used to sign veteran outfielder Nick Swisher this past week. The Indians are also set to receive between $24 and $25 million per season for the next seven years under MLB’s new cable contracts set to kick in this year.

The Indians created SportsTime Ohio in 2006 to carry their games exclusively, have more control over Indians’ programming in general, and to create programming exclusive to the State of Ohio and its other sports teams. Since its creation, STO has become the home of the Indians, the cable home of the Cleveland Browns, the Mid-American Conference and their postseason games, and the Ohio High School Athletic Association and their postseason games. The networks also hosts weekly programming related to the Cleveland Browns, the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Ohio University Bobcats, the University of Akron Zips, and also broadcasts select AA and AAA minor-league baseball games throughout the Indians’ season. Prior to the creation of STO, the Tribe had been carried on Fox Sports from 1998-2005 when the ball club went from local coverage on WUAB to cable.

The Indians will continue to be broadcast on STO for the 2013 season, and Tribe broadcasters Rick Manning, Matt Underwood and Al Pawlowski will return to call the games. Manning and Underwood currently have three-years left on their contracts, and it is unlikely that Fox Sports will replace the duo who have been calling the Indians’ action for many years. Fox Sports will also honor the Indians’ current deal with local NBC affiliate WKYC to broadcast select games next season. Following the 2013 season it is likely that Fox will continue to operate the STO network as a separate entity from Fox Sports Ohio which also operates in the Cleveland and Cincinnati areas.

Fox Sports Ohio currently hosts the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA, the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL, Columbus Crew soccer, Lake Erie Monsters hockey and the University of Cincinnati and University of Dayton in the NCAA. It seems unlikely that the network would be able to absorb the Indians, MAC and OHSAA into their current programming without scheduling conflicts, so keeping STO as a secondary network seems a logical solution. It is unknown if Fox will continue airing other STO programs such as call-in shows All Bets are Off with Bruce Drennan, Chuck’s Last Call with Chuck Galetti and Beer Money, a trivia show taped in local sports bars and arenas based on Ohio sports trivia. STO also provides coverage for local professional wrestling promotions and select MMA programming. During off hours and in the early morning, the station carries various infomercials and other paid programming.

 

 

By Robert Gonzalez
Cleveland Indians Correspondent


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