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

Three of Chicago’s professional sports teams are ditching 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 dropped their regional sports rights agreement with NBC Sports Chicago and will create the Chicago Sports Network, which will debut in October 2024.

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, skipping the ballpark.

“As we set out to design the network, we started and ended every conversation with the simple question: What’s best for our fans?” Coyle said in a statement. “What is the best distribution approach? How can we push the limits of production both in game and in the studio? We intend to serve our fans on as many platforms and markets as our rights allow.”

The new network is expected to carry more than 300 games each 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, home of the Sox.

The network’s launch is just five months away, and the network has begun hiring talent and other staff.

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

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

The loss of the three rights partners will ultimately spell the end for NBC Sports Chicago, leaving NBCU with only five markets in which it operates an RSN.

It previously lost MLB partner 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 the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and the MLR Chicago Hounds franchise.

NBCU has largely downplayed the RSN side of its business, including not including them in the lower tiers of its parent Comcast’s pay-TV packages.

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