CLEVELAND — WKYC Channel 3 will be the primetime home of the Cleveland Browns for the 2019 season.
WKYC will air the Browns’ two road Monday Night Football games on September 16 and October 7, respectively, as well as the Sunday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sunday, September 22.
With the NFL having flexible scheduling options for late-season Sunday Night Football games, the Browns could find themselves in the primetime spotlight more if they remain in the hunt for the AFC North Division Championship.
“This will be an epic season for the Cleveland Browns and the league’s number one fan base,” WKYC President and General Manager Micki Byrnes said in a release announcing the deal. “Channel 3 is proud to be the local primetime home for the Browns. With the largest and most-seasoned sports team on air and on digital, we’ll bring the games to life during this extraordinary season.”
WKYC Sports anchor Jim Donovan, the radio voice of the Browns added, “It’s the most anticipated season in decades. All eyes in the NFL will be on Cleveland and the great story of the Browns. It will be incredible to have Northeast Ohio watch it unfold in primetime on WKYC.”
In their history, the Browns have made just one appearance on Sunday Night Football, which came in a 10-6 Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 14, 2008.
The Browns’ Monday Night Football games against the New York Jets (Week 2) and San Francisco 49ers (Week 5) will be a simulcast of the ESPN feed, while the Sunday Night Football broadcast will be an NBC Sports production.
All-time, the Browns are 15-15 in Monday Night Football appearances, but have not been featured on the NFL’s flagship primetime broadcast since 2015.
The game against the Jets will mark the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Monday Night Football game. The Browns and Jets were featured on the very first Monday Night Football broadcast on September 21, 1970, a game which Cleveland won, 31-21, in front of the home fans, but the two teams have not met under the bright lights of the Monday spotlight since that initial contest.
The Browns and 49ers last played on Monday Night Football on September 13, 1993, a game the Browns won, 23-13, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
Overall, the Browns have posted a 24-32 record in primetime games, going 15-16 at home and 9-16 on the road.
The primetime spotlight will be an opportunity for quarterback Baker Mayfield to show his development after a record-setting rookie season in 2018.
Mayfield broke the NFL rookie record with his 27th touchdown throw of the season with 3:24 remaining in the fourth quarter of a 26-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North Division clash at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on December 30.
After taking over the first-team offense in the second quarter of a Week 3 win over the New York Jets, Mayfield completed 310 of his 486 attempts (63.8 percent) for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.
Under the direction of new Browns coach Freddie Kitchens, the interim offensive coordinator for the second half of the 2018 season, Mayfield completed 180 of his 263 attempts (68.4 percent) for 2,254 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
In addition to Mayfield’s development, the primetime games will be a chance for the football world to see how wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has transitioned to Cleveland after spending five years with the New York Giants.
Over 59 regular-season games, including 56 starts, in those five years with the Giants, Beckham Jr. turned 622 targets into 390 receptions for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns. Beckham Jr. averaged 92.8 yards per game, including a league-best 108.8 during the 2014 season.
Last season, Beckham Jr. turned in a 77-catch, 1,052-yard, six-touchdown effort for the Giants.