Unlike most years, the Bengals’ AFC North rivalry game with the Cleveland Browns Sunday won’t air on CBS affiliate WKRC-TV, “Your Bengals Station.”
The NFL moved the game to Fox from CBS, which broadcasts most AFC games. So Fox affiliate WXIX-TV (Channel 19) will air the Bengals for a second straight Sunday, and be able to promote its Dec. 12 telecast of the Crosstown Shootout.
The NFL moved the 1 p.m. Bengals-Browns to Fox because the Jets-Giants game will get 40 percent national coverage on CBS, says Jon Lawhead, group manager for Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Channels 12 and 64 here and Dayton’s Channels 22 and 45.
“The NFL wants playoff teams to have greater coverage then what the Bengals would have… on CBS. As a result they decided to move the Bengals game to Fox, where it will receive more national coverage,” Lawhead explains.
Channel 19 plans a two-hour pregame special, “Battle of Ohio,” at 9 a.m. Sunday, leading into “Fox NFL Sunday.” The station also will follow the Crosstown Shootout Dec. 12 with a 90-minute special, “Crosstown Classic Postgame Live” at 7:30 p.m. The UC-Xavier Crosstown Shootout returns to over-the-air TV this year as a national Fox Broadcasting telecast, after years on ESPN cable.
“As part of Fox’s partnership with the Big East, Fox claimed the rights to the Crosstown Shootout. It will be produced by Fox national and aired as a national TV game. It'll be aired only on Fox 19 in Cincinnati,” says Joe Danneman, Channel 19 sports director.
The 90-minute post game will include the Shootout “press conferences, live guests, fan reaction and features. We are involving more staff than I can ever remember for a sports-related show. I’m pretty excited,” Danneman says.
Xavier will play two more nationally televised games on Fox: At Butler Feb. 13, and at Georgetown Feb. 20, according to the Xavier schedule. Most XU Big East games will be shown on FS1 cable.
The NFL switching networks for games is common late in the season. Last year Channel 19 lost a Bengals game slated for Fox to CBS. Lawhead hopes to add a game on Dec. 20, when NBC likely drops the Bengals-San Francisco game from “Sunday Night Football” for a better game with playoff implications.
“We expect for the 49ers game to be flexed back to the afternoon on CBS. I can't imagine that they would want the 49ers in prime-time. They haven't announced it yet, but I expect it,” Lawhead says.