I am a long, long, long time fan of the Cleveland Browns football team. Since the days of Brian Sipe and the Kardiac Kids I have ridden that roller coaster and have come close to tasting the ultimate prize of getting to the Super Bowl. The lowest points have been “Red Right 88”, “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, and the move of the team to Baltimore at the end of the 1995 season.
When I was a kid I had no problem watching the Browns games on TV. The AFC was on NBC then and living close to Toledo, Cleveland games were the AFC default. The closest NFL team to our market was Detroit and they played in the NFC.
When I moved to Columbus the issue because troublesome. I am now in the middle of 2 team’s market area (Cleveland and Cincinnati) and also could be included in a 3rd (Pittsburgh) and all of them are in the AFC. Our local CBS station has the thankless job of deciding which team to show each week of the season especially if they are playing at the same time – which seems to be most of the time. The NFL and CBS doesn’t allow WBNS to move the other games to another channel like WWHO which is a broadcast channel or to a dedicated digital cable channel.
Each week one of us group of fans is going to lose out and be forced to listen to the game on radio. With the poor play Cleveland has had the past few years and the improvement of the Bungles, Cleveland fans in Central Ohio lose out most of the time.
Sure there are options if I want to pay a large amount of money to see games I don’t want to see just to see the games I want to see. I do enjoy football but I am less inclined to watch games I have no interest in.
This issue came up again for me with the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this week. WBNS is showing not only the regional games for our city since Ohio State is playing, but they are also showing games from the other regions on 3 digital channels on the local cable systems. They do this by splitting the feed from CBS. If the technology is there to do for basketball then CBS should be able to do for football.
I’m NOT talking about a Seattle fan living in Boston being able to watch the Seahawks, I am talking about allowing an affiliate that straddles more than one team market being allowed to show all the nearby teams each Sunday.
I don’t fault the NFL for being particular on the right to watch games as their TV rights money is basically what keeps them in business but they are missing the opportunity of giving some of us what we want and blowing the opportunity of getting us to buy more merchandise, going to a game in person, and breeding another generation of fans.