CLEVELAND -- The long-rumored sale of SportsTime Ohio became reality on Friday, when the Indians' sports network was officially acquired by FOX Sports Media Group.
As part of the sale, FOX Sports Ohio secured the exclusive long-term local telecast rights for Indians baseball.
"We look forward to a long-term partnership with FOX," Indians chief executive officer Paul Dolan said in a statement, "that will continue to bring state-of-the-art broadcasts of Indians games to the fans while strengthening the franchise and enhancing our ability to build competitive teams."
One potential benefit to the new TV deal -- combined with the national cable TV revenue that will be spread among all Major League teams beginning in 2014 -- is additional funds for players acquisitions. Just last week, the Indians flexed some new-found financial flexibility by reaching a four-year, $56 million contract agreement with free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher.
FOX Sports Ohio serves more than five million homes throughout Ohio, as well as portions of Kentucky, Indiana, western Pennsylvania, western New York and West Virginia. FSO is also the exclusive TV home of the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew, Xavier Musketeers and Cincinnati Bearcats.
Indians games were previously aired by FOX Sports Ohio prior to the 2006 season, when the team's ownership created SportsTime Ohio to begin carrying the games. STO also offers other locally relevant sports content, including Cleveland Browns programming, OHSAA football and basketball playoffs and championships, and Mid-American Conference events.
"The acquisition of SportsTime Ohio solidifies our business in Ohio," Jeff Krolik, executive vice president of Fox Sports Networks, said in a statement. "And FOX Sports Media Group's new long-term agreement with the Indians reunites the team with the FOX Sports family.
"We look forward to once again showcasing the Indians to their fans, as well as working with the Indians ownership to continue to enhance the value of this iconic franchise."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.