Fire TV Schedule - Finally

All is well that ends well might be the appropriate cliche to describe the Fire's long awaited announcement of their regional television broadcast schedule.  The broadcast partnership will include games televised on Comcast SportsNet and NBC Chicago Nonstop along with other nationally televised matches.  CSN appeared to be out of the picture as recently as two days ago but common sense apparently prevailed among the club's top decision makers prompting a move back to the flagship station of professional local sports cable broadcasting (WGN notwithstanding).

Fans angered that a local broadcast schedule had not yet been released voiced their displeasure with the delay on this platform and others.  A rumored move to broadcast games over NBC Chicago's secondary station, Chicago Nonstop (or NBC 5.2) panicked fans who feared they may not be able to pick up the station via their individual television providers.  Those supporters can be somewhat assured this afternoon that every match will be available to them since matches carried on NBC5.2 will not be blacked out on MLS Live or on MLS Direct Kick packages.

The newly revamped package will not include My50, which had been part of the Fire's broadcast team over the last few seasons but will include one match televised on NBC 5 Chicago.  The May 26 game at Columbus will be shown live on NBC's main local outlet, channel 5.

All regionally broadcast games will feature a 30 minute pre-game show, something that has been missing from Fire telecasts and has been long overdue.  Dan Kelly and Evan Whitfield return as the team in the booth with Kevin Egan serving as the sideline reporter.

The move to partner with Comcast again, which is partially owned by NBCUniversal, and NBC locally now makes sense from a growth perspective as opposed to the prospect of playing "hide the Fire" with the team's matches broadcast over outlets with vastly smaller potential audiences.   Furthermore, NBC5.2 along with being virtually unknown by most fans currently carries Chicago Wolves and high school basketball and football as their main sports programming, and the Fire as an organization could not afford to foster the perception of a minor league operation by assocating their telecasts solely with minor league hockey and high school sports while the other "major league" teams in the city played with the big boys.

As recently as this morning, CSN's website excluded the Fire's name from the list of tabs dedicated to each professional franchise in Chicago and had relegated them to the the all inclusive "More" tab which featured MMA and prep sports.  This afternoon the Fire's tab returned as the announcement was made.  As soccer continues to increase it's presence in the American sporting landscaping through the vitally crucial television vehicle it's important that the Fire not take steps backward while the rest of the league goes forward.  This newly announced partnership gives them a chance to stay in the game of relevancy on a local scale.

Saturday's opener against Montreal will be televised by CSN and will feature a 30 minute pre-game show.

All is well that ends well.

The question is, what took so long and why did it have to be so painful?

Filed under: 2012 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • After this long frustrating wait I am glad
    it finally happened. Would like to see
    and hear Brandon Hannan worked
    into some of the broadcasts I think he
    did a very good job with the Pre Season
    play by play broadcasts.
    Thank you, Andrew Hauptman and Julian
    Posada for finally coming through for us
    Chicago Fire Fans even at this late hour.

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    In reply to Juergen:

    I admit it as well, the schedule looks good. But I do have to say, I would much rather break the open air with my last breath than to be continually revived by CPR.

  • Speaking of painful, GR, can you get someone at the Tribune to make the MLS standings look more sensible on the Scoreboard page? On most days, they present a truncated table that shows only the W-L-D records of the teams. If they can't (or won't) display the full info of W-L-D, with GF, GA and Pts, then they should simply show Games Played and Pts. At quick glance, that information provides an accurate look at the relative positions of each team in the tables.

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    In reply to StaryByk3:

    Tables here in MLS make hardly any sense anyway. Oh wait, this year, the top 5 make it in regardless of conference. Cool. Now we only have to reinform the rest of America that. Lets write it in pencil because it might change again.

  • I agree that the format and broadcast schedule looks good. However, the fact that every other MLS team had its broadcast schedule out weeks ago shows that the Fire's management is lacking. If this was a once in a while thing, no problem. This is an every year thing since Hauptman took over. Its really just a lack of understanding of how to reach out and expand the market. Its sad to me because I want to see the Fire as an equal among Chicago's teams, not an aside coverage. For example, if the Fire were an equal there would be stories on the major networks this week about the upcoming season, interviews with players, the fact that the Fire are going to be playing before 50k plus crowd on Saturday etc. A decent Fire management might have gotten these stories on the network affiliates. Instead, the story is the fact the Fire delay their television schedule for no reason. Why?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    This was something that Hauptman addressed yesterday at the media dinner. He believes the delay is more a function of completing the process in this specific market. More on that later.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Seriously? New York and LA (both teams) had their schedules out a month ago. He's full of something.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    didn't red bulls last year not have their first game televised as they worked stuff out with msg? And LA had a unique situation where a new local sports station was starting up and competing and needed programming

  • In reply to lijien:

    LA is a completely different animal since there are two major sports carriers looking to throw money at professional sports properties for content. Time Warner threw $55 million dollars over ten years at the Galaxy in order to get them away from Fox Sports. That competition doesn't really exist here.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thats unless WGN wants to be a super station again.

  • In reply to lijien:

    Nonetheless, every single team in the league had their schedule out and published weeks ago. I just think its one of the primary things a front office is supposed to be working on in the off season, so the fact that the team publishes its schedule less than 48 hours before its starts the season is really a sign that they are not good at what they are supposed to be working on. Like I said, if this were a one time thing like New York last year, I say no problem. This has occured every year since Hauptman bought the team. The League mandated local TV coverage, and he has been kicking and screaming to get it done. I think that that is the real issue. I have a feeling that Hauptman wants to prove he can get the best deal amongst all of the owners so he waits and strings out the negotiations until the end. If there is really something unique about Chicago as opposed to New York or LA, I would say fine, but I really do not think that that is correct. OK, now I'm done. I feel better now. GO FIRE!!!!!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Krasov:

    I agree Krasov.

    IF attendance wasn't so shabby

    IF we saw more advertisements

    IF we didn't go through all of last year without a sponsor

    IF this wasn't such an annually continuing concern

    IF we hadn't endured 5 years straight trophyless years

    IF we would have bid more for the Open Cup Final

    Then... perhaps we wouldn't have thought anything of it. But a long term relationship with a station, and we still do this every other year is getting to become antagonizing for the real hard core fans. I've invested so much into being a fan of the Fire, we need more transparency if they are really working their tails off. Without it, all we see is a faceless blank stare at the thought of another trophyless season, and an organization who is not doing things at a championship level. Fire fans deserve more than that.

  • I think the tv schedule is a microcosm of a bigger issue, and that is the FO's ability to make the Fire a more visible presence in the city. Andrew & co. would do well to look at what Merritt Paulson and Portland have done to market the team and make them a force in the city. Their ad campaign the last two years has absolutely SLAYED, and I believe the buzz they create, the fan atmosphere, and the way they run the club leads to the success we see the entire league brag and fawn over for days after their home opener. Granted, the stadium being in the heart of the city instead of 20 mins. outside downtown helps tremendously, but let's start with the things that can be changed, not those that can't.

  • The post makes it seem like CSN is the main partner. They are only showing 8 games.

    NBC 5.2 is playing 14 games so they are the main local Fire outlet.

    I don;t have a problem with this since I don't get CSN Chicago and appreciate that most of the games will be on over-the-air TV.

    I'd like to see some of these secondary digital channels show more global football. I know the TV rights racket is all crazy, but wouldn't it be cool for one of these sub-channels to show something like the Danish league or even NASL or USL.

  • The return to CSN keeps them in the mainstream sports picture, that's why I focused more on that in the post. There are still issues with fans concerned about not being able to pick up NBC5.2 easily so it was important that they maintained another carrier capable of reaching a larger potential audience even if it was for less games than 5.2.

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