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Chicago pro sports teams to form new TV broadcast outlet

Chicago Sports Network will distribute Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox games on broadcast, cable and streaming TV platforms.

Chicago Sports Network will distribute Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox games on broadcast, cable and streaming TV platforms.

The logos of Chicago-area professional sports teams.
(Courtesy image, Graphic by The Desk)

Three of Chicago’s professional sports teams are leaving Comcast-owned NBC Sports Chicago for a new media venture.

Soon, the Chicago Sports Network will be the exclusive home of locally-televised Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago White Sox games, the teams announced on Monday. The venture will be supported by Tennessee-based broadcaster Standard Media Group, marking the company’s first foray into Chicago media. Jason Coyle has been named the president of the Chicago Sports Network.

“As we set out to design the network, we began and ended every discussion with the simple question: What is best for our fans?” Coyle said in a statement. “What is the best approach to distribution? How can we push the limits of both in-game and studio production? We plan to serve our fans on as many platforms and in as many markets as our rights allow.”

Throughout the season, Chicago Sports Network pledges to air more than 300 live basketball, hockey and baseball games from the three partner teams. The games will be distributed on cable, satellite and streaming TV services, just as they were through NBC Sports Chicago.

The twist is that games will also be “available” on over-the-air broadcast television after Chicago Sports Network launches in October, though an announcement released on Monday stopped short of saying all games would be available on free broadcast TV. That suggests Chicago Sports Network will work out licensing deals with Chicago-area broadcasters to bring a package of games to broadcast TV, which could serve as a promotional vehicle for a direct-to-consumer streaming option that could launch around the same time.

Blackhawks and Bulls pre-season games will be immediately available on the new network in October, the company affirmed on Monday. White Sox games will continue on NBC Sports Chicago through the current season, then move over to Chicago Sports Network around March 2025.

Cable and satellite distribution partners were not named on Monday. Standard Media says it is currently hiring for Chicago Sports Network.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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