Tribe TV network to expand


Stand against retrans!!!
Supporting Founder
Apr 18, 2005
DeKalb County, AL
Baseball is just the beginning for Jim Liberatore.

The Cleveland native is the new president of Fastball Sports Productions, the company set up by the Indians to oversee their TV operation.

This season, the Indians will present almost all game telecasts through their own company, with about 20 games broadcast on WKYC (Channel 3) and roughly 140 more (counting some preseason games) carried by cable operators, including Time Warner. FSN will no longer be a home to Indians games.

Details, including the name of the new network and the broadcast team, will be announced next week, he said. He did say that viewers can expect a consistent look on broadcast and cable, a broadcast team of ``familiar faces and... additions'' and changes in the telecasts.

``The big advantage is that we are a partner with 'KYC,'' he said. The additional resources, including a studio, are ``going to let us have a whole different approach to the pregame (show).''

For example, he expects to offer more detail not only about the Indians, but also about ``the teams that are important to Cleveland.... We want to tell you more than just that Chicago is winning.''

Since taking his job two weeks ago, Liberatore has been working on details of the TV broadcasts, agreements with cable and satellite-dish companies and using the Indians' telecasts as the foundation for a regional sports channel.

The Time Warner deal has been key, especially since it is merging with Adelphia, a combination that will let the Indians reach most cable homes in Northeast Ohio.

And, he said: ``We're talking with everyone else. I don't know if we'll have everything in place by our first (telecast of a preseason) game... but we hope it will be done by Opening Day.''

That includes the satellite-dish companies, which Liberatore called ``a huge presence in this market.'' Fastball working on a deal, and Liberatore is sure that fans will push the dish services to carry the games.

One of those fans is Liberatore himself, who regrets that his schedule is too busy for him to get to spring training. He remembers attending Len Barker's perfect game in 1981, but also years when ``the Indians were horrible. Not `not good.' They were horrible.''

He believes that the Indians are no longer that bad, that the pitching will be strong in the coming season and that the team is building a core of stars.

In fact, he is excited about the future of Cleveland sports generally. ``I've met with (Cavaliers owner) Dan Gilbert, and he is going to win,'' he said.

Baseball, after all, is just part of Liberatore's vision of sports. His years in sports television included a term as president of the Speed Channel, and his long-range idea for the Indians' network is for something greater than one team.

``We are going to focus on this region, on the unique psychology of fans in this region -- part optimism, part fatalism,'' he said. ``We want to do programming about Cleveland's greatest events, Cleveland's greatest athletes -- all region-specific.''

Does that mean he would like to add, say, the Aeros to the TV mix? ``Things like that, yes,'' he said, adding the Lakewood St. Edward-Cleveland St. Ignatius football game and other high school sports as a strong possibility, since it would give local cable operators some unique programming.

``We've talked to Cleveland State,'' he added. ``We're talking to the MAC .''

The success of all this will depend first on how the Indians do, and how they do early. He thinks that the TV audience has been consistently good over the past decade, but he knows that people will be looking closely at the new telecasts in the context of the 2006 Indians.

``We do not want them to have a slow April start,'' Liberatore said.


SatelliteGuys Master
Lifetime Supporter
Jul 14, 2005
NW Ohio - Buckeye Country
Seeing that the Indians are no longer on FSN .

I wonder if D* will give me FSN Detroit, if I ask as my RSN. I would like to have them anyway, seeing they are closer , but D* refuses too see that.
I'll wait till baseball season before I call



SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 28, 2003
Its good to see a native Clevelander heading this up for the Indians. I just hope they get deals with the satellite and cable companies done before the start of the season.


SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 27, 2005
rocatman said:
Its good to see a native Clevelander heading this up for the Indians. I just hope they get deals with the satellite and cable companies done before the start of the season.

I hope the satellite companies tell them to jump in a lake. A middle market city doesn't warrant a RSN for each team.


Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
May 11, 2005
Orlando, FL
I think you will see most teams head in this direction sooner rather than later. It's a great idea if you think about it even for the small market teams, you can increase your fan base even if it is a regional broadcast.


Stand against retrans!!!
Supporting Founder
Apr 18, 2005
DeKalb County, AL
Indians Channel Makes First Pitch

Fastball Sports Productions LLC is expected Thursday to announce the name for its regional sports network covering the Cleveland Indians, the service’s logo and its on-air talent.

Whether the company will be able to announce any new distribution partners that day is another matter.

Fastball is controlled by the family of Cleveland lawyer Larry Dolan, the owner of Major League Baseball’s Indians, and it has already signed a distribution deal with Time Warner Cable, the dominant distributor in the inner Cleveland market.

Previously, the game rights were held by FSN Ohio, which offered $35 million per year to keep them. Then the Dolans decided to form their own sports network, built around the Indians.

Cable veteran Jim Liberatore, who was named president of Fastball earlier this month, has been talking with distributors in Ohio and other service areas.

“A couple of [executives] have accepted invitations to opening day and said they are starting to explore selling sponsorships. Those are good signs,” said Liberatore, who most recently headed Speed Channel. “Some of the others may be more difficult.”

Those operators can sell local spots on the network. Time Warner is serving as the network’s exclusive agent for national and regional advertising.

The difficulties, according to several cable operators, stem not only from a high monthly license fee -- a term sheet indicated four pricing zones with distributors furthest away being asked to pay about 94 cents per month, including two minutes of ad time per hour, while those closer to Cleveland would allocate $1.83 -- but a relative lack of product.

At launch, the service will offer 130 regular-season games and eight spring-training games. Including the contests, replays and other ancillary shows, the network will only be on about eight hours per day. Liberatore said, adding that non-Indians fare would be added in July.

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