White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks launch Chicago Sports Network

Starting in October, the Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox – three of the city's five biggest professional franchises – will play their games on a brand new regional sports network.

In an embargoed press release, the Chicago Sports Network (CHSN) announced Monday that it will begin broadcasting Blackhawks and Bulls preseason games this fall, while the White Sox will make their television debut in 2025.

NBC Sports Chicago – formerly known as Comcast SportsNet Chicago – has been the TV home of the trio and the Chicago Cubs since 2004. In 2019, the Cubs split from the squad to form their own regional sports network with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, while the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox signed a five-year contract extension with NBC Sports. That deal expires on October 1.

CHSN is a joint venture between the teams and Standard Media, a privately held company based in Nashville, Tennessee, that owns local television stations in Rhode Island, Nebraska, Missouri and Kentucky. News of the impending deal was first reported last month by the Chicago-TribuneIn response to the question from SportHowever, a spokesman declined to comment on how CHSN's ownership shares will be divided.

Any new regional sports network would have to get approval from all affiliated professional sports leagues. The spokesperson said “the leagues have approved everything so far,” but did not specify what stage of the process that was at.

Jason Coyle, who previously served as CEO of Stadium, the Chicago-based online sports television network, will become CEO of CHSN, according to the press release. Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the White Sox and Bulls, acquired a majority stake in Stadium from Sinclair last year.

CHSN enters the market at a time of major upheaval among regional sports networks, including the collapse and Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Sinclair-owned Diamond Sports Group.

It's also an inopportune time for CHSN's future inventory, as the Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox have all struggled recently. Reinsdorf's Sox currently have the worst record in Major League Baseball, while his Bulls have only made the NBA playoffs in two of the last nine seasons, losing in the first round both times. Despite their mediocrity on the court, the Bulls are still the fifth most valuable NBA franchise, valued at $4.56 billion, according to SportThe latest reviews.

Reinsdorf, 88, has become the victim of scorn across the state of Illinois, which was further exacerbated when he recently asked for $1 billion in public funds to finance a new baseball stadium for the Sox.

The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have experienced a steep decline since winning the Stanley Cup three times between 2009 and 2015. Since then, the team has not made it past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and finished last season with the second-worst record in the league. The team's longtime CEO and chairman, Rocky Wirtz, died unexpectedly last summer, leaving the team to his son, Danny Wirtz.

Accordingly The athleteThe Blackhawks had been exploring their own broadcasting offering, as the Cubs do with their Marquee Sports Network. Instead, the Wirtz Corporation, which owns the United Center with Reinsdorf, will maintain those ties over the airwaves.

In 2003, Reinsdorf, Bill Wirtz (Rocky's father) and the Tribune Company, then-owner of the Cubs, founded Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The channel was renamed NBC Sports Chicago in 2017 following Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal.

A spokesman for NBC Sports Chicago did not respond to a request for comment.