In the sports media business, we all experience the heavy workload of “March Madness,” but April is also extremely busy for one Chicago network. Comcast SportsNet Chicago will deliver 45 live pro game telecasts in 30 days. This includes the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and NBA’s Chicago Bulls preparing for the postseason; as well the opening month of the 2013 MLB season for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. The network will also carry over 200 live sports news/talk shows and surrounding pre/post game coverage throughout the 30 day period.
T.S. Eliot wrote that April is “the cruelest month.” Actually, it’s the polar opposite if you’re a Chicago sports fan.
“This April will once again be our biggest month with all four of our pro team partners in action,” said James J. Corno, President of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
The broadcast breakdown of Comcast SportsNet’s April includes 11 Blackhawks, five Bulls, 14 Cubs & 15 White Sox telecasts. And that doesn’t include the network’s first round schedule of Blackhawks and Bulls playoff games. Exact playoff game schedules are TBD. The Bulls are currently the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Blackhawks are currently first in the Western Conference.
The four teams Comcast SportsNet partners with always receive a lot of publicity. But so have events involving Comcast SportsNet on-air personalities themselves. Eighties icon Mr. T scored a goal at the recent Blackhawks shoot the puck; video of his shot and his interview with Susannah Collins was picked up by multiple national outlets. (Go here for our exclusive with Susannah Collins.) Comcast SportsNet Bulls analyst Kendall Gill is currently suspended for the rest of the NBA season due to an altercation on the set of CSN’s SportsTalk Live; which also became national news.
There’s also been a lot of new programming on Comcast SportsNet Chicago in the past year. There’s a new trivia show “Gas Money,” hosted by Collins and Luke Stuckmeyer, the baseball trivia show “Batter’s Box,” and “Sports Talk Live” replaced “Chicago Tribune Live.”
“We’re also planning to air special playoff-focused editions of ‘SportsNet Central’ and additional remote editions of our ‘Pre/Post Game Live’ shows and ‘SportsTalk Live,’ beginning this spring,” said Phil Bedella, VP/GM of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
“Going forward, we will look into additional programming opportunities by leveraging our partnership with NBC Sports and their roster of linear and digital sports properties.”
There’s also been fair amount of turnover in the on-air talent department. Susannah Collins replaced Sarah Kustok. Jen Lada was hired in a freelance role. Freelancer Nicole Darin departed the station as did Gail Fischer. Jim Deshaies replaced Bob Brenly as Len Kasper’s partner in the Cubs broadcast booth.
I asked Bedella about the recent changes, and if we should expect any more.
“Every television station throughout the country experiences talent transition on a fairly regular basis, but we’re pleased with our solid roster of talent,” said Bedella.
Comcast SportsNet got April started today with nine hours of live, local sports coverage: highlighted by the White Sox home/season opener versus Kansas City Royals and the Blackhawks hosting Nashville. There’s been no lockout backlash here as the top 25 highest-rated Blackhawks regular season games in Chicago regional sports network history have all occurred this season.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker. Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)
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