WCPO-TV back in the game with Bengals telecasts
After years on WLWT-TV, the ABC affiliate will air the local simulcast of the Bengals' primetime games this season.
When WLWT-TV punted on carrying simulcasts of the Bengals' primetime weeknight games, WCPO-TV quickly grabbed them.
That's why the Amazon Prime Video telecast of the Bengals-Dolphins game Thursday, Sept. 29, will air on Channel 9.
"It has been many years since we broadcasted a Bengals game. Bengals and NFL games are consistently the top programs on TV each year, so we are thrilled to have these games on WCPO 9," says Jeff Brogan, WCPO TV vice president and general manager.
Channel 9 also will air the ESPN simulcast of the Bengals-Browns Monday Night Football game Oct. 31, after acquiring the local TV rights from ESPN.
Additionally, ABC is simulcasting five regular season ESPN Monday Night Football games as part of the new Disney/ABC deal with the NFL to get playoff games and two future Super Bowls on ABC. Channel 9 viewers will see the Giants-Cowboys game Monday Sept. 26, the third consecutive ABC/ESPN Monday Night Football simulcast.
The Bengals-Bills Monday Night Football game Jan. 2 also will be simulcast nationally on ABC and ESPN.
WLWT-TV and parent Hearst gave up the rights after the Bengals' Super Bowl season for financial reasons, says Branden Frantz, WLWT-TV president and general manager.
"We did have the ESPN contract for many years. Hearst owns 20 percent of ESPN and has a strong partnership with Disney. That said, while we would have loved to carry the games again in 2022, we simply were not able to make it work as a group any longer. At some point, you can't justify it from a business decision," Frantz says.
It's not a complete shutout for WLWT. Channel 5 will air two Bengals games on NBC's top-rated Sunday Night Football, at Baltimore Sunday, Oct. 9 and at Pittsburgh Nov. 20.
WKRC-TV will air Sunday's Bengals-Jets game from CBS, which carries most games for AFC teams. WXIX-TV is scheduled to broadcast two games from Fox, against the Falcons on Oct. 23 and the Panthers on Nov. 6.
Al Michaels — who started his big league career with the Reds in 1971 and did NFL games for NBC, ABC, and ESPN — will do the Amazon Prime Video games with Kirk Herbstreit, the ABC and ESPN football analyst from Centerville.
WCPO-TV plans to make the most of its investment by doing special programs on game nights showcasing its anchors, as Channel 9's Dennis Janson and John Popovich did around Bengals primetime simulcasts about 20 years ago.
"Our news team is planning significant special coverage in our newscasts that will include anchoring from the stadium and special feature stories on the team and fans," Brogan says.
"On the night of the games, we are planning one hour pre-game shows that will get fans ready for each matchup and one hour post game shows with reaction from players, coaches, and fans," he says.