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Chicago Fire Sale

chicago white sox baseball
It seems like the regional sports network crisis has come to roost in Chicago, the country’s third-largest media market. Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images
John Ourand
June 3, 2024

The regional sports network crisis, which has been roiling the Pittsburghs and San Diegos of the world in recent months, wasn’t expected to reach the big-market teams for years. Larger-market franchises, like the Dodgers and Yankees, obviously enjoy more immense fandoms and populations of cable subscribers—and, therefore, more leverage. And yet, now it seems like the headache has come to roost in Chicago, the country’s third-largest media market. 

Jerry Reinsdorf, who owns the White Sox and the Bulls, had long been negotiating to keep his teams on NBC Sports Chicago. But Comcast did not make a competitive effort to retain the teams’ rights. And why would they? Since nobody knows how the local sports rights business is going to shake out, it would be a big risk for a public company to sign a long-term local rights deal. So today, the White Sox and Bulls, along with the Blackhawks, announced the creation of the Chicago Sports Network in partnership with Nashville-based Standard Media.