Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox are considering starting their own network

On Thursday, an interesting story came out from Chicago Sun Times It could rock the Chicago sports media scene. According to Jeff Agrest, three teams in Chicago could take part in building a new television network.

The magical date is October 2024. That’s when NBC Sports Chicago’s contracts with the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox expire. The fact that all three are due at the same time creates an opportunity for the three – two of whom are owned by the Reinsdorf family (which owns the Bulls and White Sox) – to pursue the Cubs model and launch their own channel.

And “industry insiders” according to Agreste report, the discussion is on the table. Or at least, that’s what they want everyone in the industry to believe in.

These three teams may legitimately want to create something completely new in Chicago…or they may want to pressure NBC (part owner of NBC Sports Chicago) to improve the terms of their next deal. Or they might even want to take NBC out of the picture, keeping things pretty much the same. Just some important points to keep in mind.

The story outlines the Cubs’ timeline for the Marquee Network’s launch with Sinclair Broadcasting, and it’s comparable to where we are now with NBCSN and these three teams. The Cubs announced their intention to launch their own network in 2015, but the partnership with Sinclair and Marquee’s name wasn’t revealed until 2018.

Marquee Network launched in 2020. To say the timing was less than optimal is an understatement; The pandemic has delayed Cubs season and a deal between Sinclair and Xfinity for the rights has not been reached until 11am.

With the pandemic (hopefully) in the rearview mirror, the timing may be stronger to strike a deal with these three teams out on their own. However, Marquee has added the Chicago Sky and Cubs minor league games to the list of live shows.

Welcome back to Sports Vision?

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember back in the day (the ’80s, to be exact) when SportsVision came on the scene. did not work. Maybe it was only 35 years early?

With the Reinsdorf family owning both the White Sox and the Bulls, they can follow the path of the YES Network in New York, which covers the Yankees and Brooklyn Nets. But the idea that the Wirtz family, which hosted the quintessential SportsVision four decades ago, will stay with its United Center partners for a new network, makes sense.

future flow

according to Sun Times In the report, Bally Sports is expected to launch a streaming service for its group of RSNs this year, starting in June with five MLB teams (Brewers, Marlins, Rays, Royals and Tigers). And NESN (Boston) already has a streaming platform for Red Sox and Bruins games (see: NHL/MLB Partnership).

If teams owned the entire network, the ability to be more flexible and adapt to ever-changing media content would be more realistic. Offering a streaming service as well as a cable network would give all participating teams the ability to create many new revenue opportunities across different layers of customer/fan interaction.

middle is dying

As CNBC reported in November of 2021, RSN is no longer as attractive as it once was.

The local sports saga is taking place in markets across the United States as television companies are abandoning satellite and satellite television for regional sports networks, or RSNs. Instead of accepting large monthly subscription fees, pay-TV providers like Comcast, DirecTV and Dish and digital providers like YouTube TV and Hulu are increasingly cutting costs.

They decided that the amount they had to pay to keep RSNs in the bundle no longer made economic sense, given how few people watch and how much they charge.

Unlike ESPN, RSNs are the most expensive of the bunch. Many are charging more than $5 a month per subscriber, according to research firm Kagan, a subsidiary of S&P Global. Cable bills must rise to support the added cost, which leads to more cancellations.

This story also states that 25 million customers have cut the cord with cable since 2012 and analysts expect another 12-25 million to follow suit in the next 3-4 years.

At the end of 2021, NBC Sports Network (National Network) ceased operations. NBC Universal made the decision to move its sports rights to other owned channels (such as USA) to bring more attention to their sports content. NBC’s local RSNs were separate businesses and were not folded at the time.

NBC has since lost its NHL rights in deals with both Turner and Disney. The TNT and ESPN games began in the 2021-22 season.

Sinclair, who has partnered with Cubs on Marquee, has a lot of interest in the RSN game. The Department of Justice forced Disney to sell 21 RSNs when it acquired Fox’s entertainment assets for $71.3 billion in 2019 due to antitrust concerns. Sinclair reportedly paid $10.6 billion for 21 networks in 2019.

Many of those earlier networks, which were designated under the Fox umbrella, were renamed Bally Sports Networks in March 2021. Regional Bally Sports Networks are operated by Diamond Sports Group, a joint venture of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Entertainment Studios with naming rights sold For Bali casino operator.

In May, Sinclair announced the closing of a new $635 million credit facility that will be used to grow 19 of the 19 Bally Sports-branded RSN network.

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