As expected, WGN-TV announced it was moving 20 or so Chicago White Sox games from Weigel’s WCIU to Fox-owned WPWR-TV. The move to the My Network TV affiliate, means WPWR gets to air baseball for the first time.
WPWR is also picking up five Chicago Cubs games WGN-TV is producing.
Earlier this season, WGN moved six Chicago Bulls games from WCIU to WPWR.
These little nuggets were revealed as both the Cubs and White Sox released their 2015 broadcast schedules this week.
WCIU had a deal with WGN Sports to become the second over-the-air outlet for Cubs, White Sox, and Bulls games since 1999, as WGN devoted more and more time to network programming from The WB and later, The CW. But WCIU bowed out before signing a deal with WLS-TV to air a 7:00 p.m. weeknight newscast, which began January 12.
The Bulls and White Sox move to WPWR is somewhat of a homecoming – back in 1989, Fox – the current owner of WPWR – sued to get out of its White Sox contract because the team wasn’t good enough, earning poor ratings for WFLD-TV. Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of both teams, settled with Fox and moved them to WGN.
For the first time in known memory, WGN is producing more White Sox games than Cub games with 55 as opposed to 45. 25 other Cubs games went to WLS-TV, and their first telecast will be April 8, a Wednesday afternoon home game against the St. Louis Cardinals (which means…yes, General Hospital will be delayed into the wee hours of Thursday morning…) The first primetime game on ABC 7 takes place June 26, a road game against St. Louis.
With five Cubs games relocating to WPWR, it brings the total of non-network outlets the Cubs are scheduled to be on this season to five, with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and its overflow plus channel maintaining cable rights.
The move comes as WPWR recently lost rights to carry Chicago Fire games, whose non-network games are now exclusive to Comcast SportsNet Chicago and sister My Network TV station in New York (WWOR) lost the rights to the Yankees, returning to WPIX.
The first televised White Sox game on WPWR comes April 14 against the Cleveland Indians.
As for WCIU, they’re not out of the sports business entirely: its secondary channel (Ch 26.2, also known as The U Too), continues to carry Chicago Wolves hockey, a few high school football and basketball games (including the Chicago Public League Basketball Championship) and a syndicated ACC college basketball package.