The Browns' game against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night will be shown on local, free TV – in this case, WJW-TV (Channel 8) in Cleveland -- a source close to the situation said on Thursday.
There are about 2,000 tickets left in 73,200-seat Cleveland Browns Stadium, and for it to be shown locally according to the NFL's blackout rules, those seats have to be sold by 72 hours before kickoff, or by 8:30 p.m. Friday. Those remaining seats will be purchased by advertisers on the telecast and distributed to local charity organizations, allowing the game to be shown.
Although the contest is being telecast nationally by ESPN, available only to cable or satellite subscribers, it must also be shown on free TV in the home market if it's a sellout by the deadline. Weeks ago, WJW bought the local free TV rights to the game.
The Browns have not had a home game blacked out in the expansion era, which began in 1999 and now includes 84 games. The Browns last had a home game blacked out late in the 1995 season, after the original franchise's impending move to Baltimore after the season had already been announced.
The game against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, another nationally-televised contest (on NFL Network) that will be played on Thursday night, Dec. 10, will be a sellout and shown locally on free TV.
However, the three other remaining home games, on Dec. 6 against the San Diego Chargers, Dec. 27 against the Oakland Raiders and Jan. 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season finale, all on Sundays and all to be telecast by CBS (Channel 19 is the local affiliate), have a lot of unsold tickets as of now and are in serious jeopardy of being blacked out.