SYRACUSE -- For decades, baseball fans have enjoyed hearing their favorite teams on the radio. But this year, an ordinary radio won't cut it for Syracuse Chiefs fans. Today, the team announced it's bypassing radio altogether, streaming all of its games exclusively via the internet.
The triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals today announced the debut of the "Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network." All 144 of the team's 2013 games will be broadcast on the network -- no radio. The audio stream will be available through the team's website at www.syracusechiefs.com. A free smartphone app will allow fans to listen with their iPhone or Android-based phone. The network debuts with the team visits the Lehigh Valley IronPigs next Thursday. Pre-game at 6:50pm, first pitch at 7:05pm.
In a press release, Syracuse Chiefs GM John Simone said, ""We are glad to offer our fans the ability to take the Chiefs anywhere. I grew up listening to baseball and now more people in more places will have more chances to listen to the game we all love."
"It is my sincere hope that everyone I've met since 2009 in this community will come along with us to our new channel," said Jason Benetti, who returns for his fourth season as the team's lead announcer. "We're planning to bring you some pretty neat stuff, including the games."
Benetti will be joined for a third season by Kevin Brown. According to today's announcement, the pair will be hard at work on more than just the game day broadcasts:
Every Sunday, Chiefs play-by-play announcers Jason Benetti and Kevin Brown will recap the week that was in Syracuse Chiefs baseball on Chiefs Digest. And every Friday, Benetti and Brown will be joined by a special guest in the booth to discuss baseball and beyond on the weekly current events quiz, Where Have You Been? Other programming will debut during the season.
For the past two years, Chiefs games were carried by The Score 1260 (WSKO). Earlier this week, Cumulus Media Syracuse Operations Manager Tom Mitchell told CNYRadio.com, "we look forward to future promotional partnerships with the Chiefs organization." Mitchell didn't provide any further comment on the matter, but today, Simone told syracuse.com reporter Lindsay Kramer that the Chiefs did try to negotiate with WSKO owner Cumulus Media for a possible renewal.
Simone didn't get into specifics, but told Kramer that going online-only would save the team money while gaining the ability to program more content on its own.
According to the syracuse.com article, the Chiefs are likely the very first triple-A team to offer broadcasts exclusively online. The article also says the team paid WSKO $25,000 to lease the air time for all of last year's games -- money which the team could then try to recoup by selling its own in-game advertising. Simone told Kramer this year, the money can be spent elsewhere, and the team's broadcasters can add the aforementioned feature programming at no extra cost.
When CNYRadio.com first learned the Chiefs would not be with WSKO this season, we had initially suspected that was a sign that the team might have been preparing to announce a deal with the only other all-sports stations in town: ESPN Radio 97.7/100.1 (WTLA/WSGO), owned by Galaxy Communications. So, we'll admit today's news took us for a bit of a loop. Galaxy President/CEO Ed Levine said it was a surprise to him too. He told CNYRadio.com, "if I had known that the Chiefs were an option, we would have been interested in having a discussion."
3/29 UPDATE: When this article first appeared, we still had some more questions for Chiefs GM John Simone, but we hadn't heard back yet. Since then, we've had a chance to chat with Simone, and he graciously explained his organization's reasons for bypassing radio. Rather than add it as an update to this article, we have a separate article based on that interview.
Do you agree with the Chiefs' decision to become pioneers in broadcasting games exclusively online, or do you wish they would have stuck with ordinary radio? Share your thoughts below using your Facebook account or your free CNYRadio.com login.