Hawks, Bulls, Sox jump NBC Sports Chicago in favor of creating their own network

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Three of Chicago’s pro sports teams are jumping ship from their NBCUniversal-owned RSN in favor of creating their own network.

The Chicago Blackhawks NHL franchise, Chicago Bulls NBA team and Chicago White Sox MLB team have all exited their regional sports rights deal with NBC Sports Chicago and will create the Chicago Sports Network, set for an October 2024 debut.

According to the announcement, the network will also be known as CHSN, including using those letters for its website domain.

The teams and their owners are launching the network with Standard Media Group and Jason Coyle, a longtime fixture in the Chicago sports media world, has been named president, jumping over from Stadium.

“As we set out to design the network, we began and ended every discussion with the simple question: What is best for our fans?” said Coyle 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.”

The new network is expected to carry more than 300 games every year along with a full slate of complementary programming.

It plans to broadcast from “highly visible” studios at the United Center, home of the Bulls and Blackhawks, and Guaranteed Rate Field, the home of the Sox.

The launch of the network is only about five months away and the network has started hiring talent and other staffers.

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By launching in October, the network will debut right when the teams’ contracts with NBC Sports Chicago expire, which is also just in time for the Blackhawks’ and Bulls’ preseason openers.

The White Sox, meanwhile, will make their CHSN debut in 2025, finishing out the remainder of the season on NBC Sports Chicago.

Losing its three rights partners will ultimately spell the end for NBC Sports Chicago, leaving NBCU down to just five markets where it operates an RSN. 

It previously lost MLB partner the Chicago Cubs, which created its own RSN called Marquee Sports Network. Marquee also has regional rights to the NFL’s Chicago Bears as well as WNBA team Chicago Sky and MLR franchise Chicago Hounds.

NBCU has largely been downplaying the RSN portion of its business, including not including them in the lower tiers of its parent company Comcast’s pay TV packages.

Standard Media announced that has already secured a substantial footprint of carriage deals throughout the market.

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