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Volume 26 No. 224
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NBC Sports Chicago Still Negotiating With Carriers For Post-Cubs Life

Oct. 1 will mark the end of the Cubs' affiliation with NBC Sports Chicago and the launch of a reconstituted version of the RSN, but "not every cable or satellite company that now carries NBC Sports Chicago has a deal in place yet to offer its new iteration," according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. With the Cubs starting their Marquee Sports Network, the new NBC Sports Chicago will feature the Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox. The Chicago area's "biggest cable outfits -- RCN, WOW and Comcast's own Xfinity -- and more than a dozen small systems are locked in." That accounts for "what the channel says is 50% to 60% of its current audience of roughly 4.5 million homes." Negotiations with other carriers, including DirecTV and Dish Network, are "ongoing and the hope is to secure agreements in time to ensure a seamless transition." Deals also are "in place" with some subscription streaming services. While Marquee is "running ads on Cubs telecasts to whet appetites, NBC Sports Chicago and its partner teams are ramping up their own multimedia campaign to get viewers to push cable and satellite systems to get on board." An ad airing on "SNF" this weekend will "feature White Sox announcer Jason Benetti, Bulls analyst Stacey King and Blackhawks commentator Eddie Olczyk reminding fans of what's at stake" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/13).

END OF AN ERA: In Chicago, Jeff Agrest writes local sports are "giving WGN their two weeks' notice Friday." The Cubs make their last appearance on the over-the-air channel Sept. 27 and the White Sox make theirs Sept. 28. The Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox have all "aired a package of games on WGN-Ch. 9 for the last decade, and their individual histories with the station predate that." The Cubs have been on WGN "since its inception" in '48. No other city in the country has "enjoyed as much over-the-air access to its teams as Chicago." But to "take everything away in one fell swoop is a drastic change" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/13). Also in Chicago, Paul Sullivan writes WGN and the Cubs will "address the situation during their final home telecast on Sept. 21 and their final telecast," but "don't expect endless cut-ins during games of great moments of WGN's past." WGN producer Marc Brady said, "The legacy itself is always going to be there. But for us to try to blow things out, it almost becomes self-serving, especially because the Cubs aren't going anywhere" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/13).