Friday Exit

We’re still consulting the OMW Medical Staff, and getting used to our “new normal”, for now. But we didn’t have to put a lot of effort into these items, so here we go…

BLACKOUT AVERTED: Fans of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns are rejoicing…they’re partying in the streets…they’re…OK, maybe they’re not partying or rejoicing.

Northeast Ohio’s sorry excuse for a “professional football team” will make their only prime-time TV appearance on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” this coming Monday, and there was a chance that the game (with the Hated Baltimore Ravens) would not be shown on local TV…as a “few thousand” unsold tickets remained.

In the usual last minute save, the local station carrying the “MNF” game was a part of the solution, according to this team news release:

As a result of combined efforts by the Cleveland Browns, ESPN, Bud Light and WJW-TV (FOX 8), the Browns-Ravens game this Monday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium will be televised locally.

The game, which kicks off at 8:30 p.m., will air nationally on ESPN, in addition to WJW-TV in the Cleveland area. The four entities will distribute remaining tickets to the USO and other local organizations.

WJW “Fox 8” holds the local-over-air rights to the “Monday Night Football” telecast, as it did last year. NFL rules require ESPN and other cable-satellite-only carriers (NFL Network, etc.) to sell local broadcast rights to the games in the home markets of the two teams involved.

But if the game wasn’t televised on WJW, the station would be left holding a rather expensive empty bag of commercial spots that wouldn’t be able to air.

Fans would also have been shut out from the ESPN TV broadcast of the game if the contest wasn’t sold out…cable and satellite carriers would have been forced to black out ESPN for Northeast Ohio viewers.

Even though many Browns fans in this horrible season have practiced our own “Personal Blackouts” – for your Primary Editorial Voice(tm), that consists of checking in occasionally until a Browns interception – the games are still quite lucrative to local TV partners like WJW… and it’s well worth it for them to help cover the cost of a “few thousand” unsold tickets…so they have a game to put on the air…

FLORENTINO TO ‘NCI/LZT: It’s not like we needed to be a psychic or a rocket scientist to make this connection.

AllAccess reports that in Columbus, Tony Florentino has landed as program director of Clear Channel top 40 WNCI/97.9 and AC WLZT/93.3.

Florentino, of course, recently exited crosstown Saga, where he was operations manager for the company’s cluster – including his important work as hands-on program director for AC powerhouse WSNY/94.7 “Sunny 95”.

OMW reported earlier that Florentino’s exit came after Saga declined to renew his contract running the Columbus stations, which also include smooth jazz WJZA/103.5, classic hits WODB/104.3 “Big Hits 104.3” and AC WVMX/107.9 “Mix 107.9”.

In our October 27th item, we conveniently noted that a very compatible post was out there that could be Florentino’s next stop:

“…a reader helpfully reminds us that, as far as we know, Clear Channel Columbus is still looking for a PD for top 40 mainstay WNCI/97.9 and AC WLZT/93.3…of course, after Michael McCoy’s exit to Detroit…”

Sure enough, Mr. Florentino has landed…

THE LENO FACTOR: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland is not immune from “The Leno Effect”, and that’s an effect that local TV managers apparently consider similar to the effects of H1N1 or “swine” flu.

OMW hears from others in local TV that the “Leno Effect” could well give the opening at 11 PM, news ratings-wise, to Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5…with Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19 up for second place. We hear it’s been “some books” since WKYC hasn’t been comfortably ahead there.

(Not that it’s all sweetness and light for the “NewsChannel 5” folks. We’re hearing that WEWS parent Scripps is aboard the “multi-media journalist” train even more so than WKYC parent Gannett…and that the station is airing a number of pieces now either voiced by video shooters, or shot in video by solo reporters not used to handling their own video. And of course, with a new approach, there are glitches. More on that, later.)

Like many displeased local affiliates, WKYC is far from silent on the Leno Problem.

Our blogging colleague over at 13th and Lakeside, “Director’s Cut” blogger and WKYC senior producer Frank Macek, has written about the Leno situation frequently.

In this item, Frank asks the question – is it finally time to cancel the prime-time Jay Leno show?

This, even as he notes that Cleveland is one of Leno’s best markets…faint praise, it would appear, given the overall situation. Quoting:

Nielsen ratings recently showed Cleveland as among Jay’s most watched markets. Sad thing is, the ratings have wobbled between only a three and a five rating every week since the show’s launch. We can only imagine how smaller markets must be faring.

Mr. Macek suggests that Leno could be moved to 10:35 PM, giving WKYC and other local affiliates a chance to mount a 10 PM local news program (and shaking up the competitive landscape locally, particularly against WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News at 10”). This is just an idea, and doesn’t seem to be rumored anywhere at this point.

We’ll repeat the disclaimer Frank Macek adds at the bottom of his item: “Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this feature are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of WKYC or Gannett Broadcasting.”

But though they are Frank’s own thoughts and opinions, it would seem from here that pretty much everyone else in TV agrees with Frank’s assessment…

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