The Fox-STO Shoe Drops

We’ve discussed the rumors. We’ve discussed the reports from every outlet this side of “Shopper’s Weekly” that a sale of Cleveland-based regional sports network SportsTime Ohio was imminent.

It’s now official, slipped just under the Tax Impact Door of 2012.

As expected everywhere (including here), Fox Sports Media Group has signed on the dotted line, with a reported, estimated $230 million purchase of the network owned by the Dolan family, who also happen to own the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball.

Also noted in the deal, a long-term deal to bring the Indians TV rights back in the Fox fold…the Tribe aired on Fox Sports Ohio until the Dolans started STO in 2006.

Plain Dealer Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes reports that Fox will pay the Indians at least $40 million a year for the team’s TV broadcast rights over the next 10 years ($400 million), which is an increase from $33 million being paid yearly from STO into the Dolans’ other pockets at Progressive Field.

Hoynes notes that the new money helped the team do things like sign prized free agent Nick Swisher.

But, there are plenty of unanswered questions that need to be answered in the coming months, Hoynes says:

Although nothing has been confirmed, it appears Fox will operate two sports networks in Ohio to avoid scheduling conflicts. Decisions on STO programming are expected to be made in the next six weeks.

Not known – will STO keep its name as a Fox Sports entity?

The company operates second networks in markets like Florida (Sun Sports), Georgia (SportSouth) and Los Angeles (Prime Ticket) under other names. Or will the current SportsTime Ohio turn into Fox Sports Cleveland or Fox Sports Northeast Ohio?

Hoynes says STO’s current Indians broadcast team – Rick Manning, Matt Underwood and Al Pawlowski – is expected to continue, as is the deal with Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 to carry over-air games – at least in the upcoming 2013 season.

Though the PD writer says “on Fox”, it doesn’t seem to be clear yet if the Indians will move to the current Fox Sports Ohio, or air on their current home – whatever STO will be called assuming it does continue as a separate network.

We asked a spokeswoman for Fox Sports Ohio, who pointed us back to the press release as the only information coming out now.

Our guess is that for branding purposes, the Indians will be on the current FSO – or if not that, a rebranded STO with the Fox Sports name.

And of course, the fate of STO’s current non-Indians local programming lineup is apparently up in the air… giving the network’s staff some pause at the holidays. We haven’t heard any rumblings about this, as Fox will be making the decisions on STO’s programming over the next few weeks.

$230 million, plus $400 million for rights over 10 years sounds like a lot of money, but Hoynes points out that deals involving Fox Sports in New York and Los Angeles “dwarf” that money…


9 Responses to The Fox-STO Shoe Drops

  1. Prince of Darkness says:

    Since Time Warner Cable managed the sales end of STO, who will do it now?

  2. dmking12370` says:

    Another party that ends up getting screwed in the end is WKYC. Even if FOX honors the 2013 contract, FOX will try and get the best games (including the home opener), plus the 720p won’t work well with KYC’s 1080i broadcasts. Finally, FOX will turn their broadcasts into a FOX Sports standard package (music, graphics, etc.) I also think they may try and shift the OTA portion to WJW.

  3. Yekimi says:

    They’ll just raise their rates monthly instead of every other month to make up for the loss of income.

  4. tom says:

    A former colleague of jamz 101.9 filled me in on what is the latest going on at Bernard Youngstown. WGFT, and WASN will continue to be on the air after the first of the month with a jock less music format. Despite reports in the vindicator, WASN is not going dark as planned as the station along side WGFT is in the process of being sold to new owners that are locally based in Youngstown and Skip has decided to keep them running at least until the end of Jan (Jan 28)when the lease is up for the studio at 20 federal plaza in downtown Youngstown. Plaza optical will be moving into the old studio which fronts Federal street.

    The plan is for the two AM’s to go dark for a day and return with no DJ’s just music as there is a plan in the works for the AM radio stations that will be announced soon. The whole staff except for Cathy who runs the front desk have officially been let go as she is winding down the Bernard Youngstown operations over the next month. If things continue on schedule, some time on Tuesday WBRP will flip to EMF and they have been in the area preparing for the new station by installing their equipment (dish,receiver)at the transmitter site in New Bedford PA

  5. tom says:

    The cool TV is coming to one of the Lin Tv Stations in Youngstown early next year as part of a group deal:


  6. tom says:

    Half of Youngstown NEW URBAN STATION:

    Current Bernard GM Skip Bednarczyk and his wife Helen has filed with the FCC to purchase 94.3 FM Niles from RICHARD P. MARBURGER.

    Voluntary Assignment of License
    Form 345
    This was accepted on Monday Dec 31st 2012. f the plan goes as expected, either WGFT or WASN will become the new AM home to urban AC in Youngstown.

  7. james says:

    I have been told by the WGFT and WASN engineer that the new format on 101.9 will not happen for at least 2 weeks to a month as they do not want to “shock” any former listeners.

  8. tom says:

    From the 1500 WASN website the last official day for the current format/station is Jan 31st after which time, the station will go of the air until a sale can be completed:

  9. tom says:

    What ever happened to W298BA 107.5 FM Boardman Ohio? It has been off the air for a while and when KSU signed it on, they claimed Boardman’s 10-watt translator antenna is located on a 300 ft. tower and reaches an area with an approximately six-mile radius. If this translator is off the air, could this be for sale or be used for anything?

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