Adding Bears is a victory for start-up RSN
The Marquee Sports Network announced Tuesday a new agreement with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, who’ll provide the fledgling regional sports network a studio show and a condensed version of the previous week’s game.
Starting Wednesday night, Marquee will air Bear Essentials in prime-time followed by a two-hour replay of the Bears 20-19 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Beginning next week, Bears programming moves to Tuesday evenings.
Bear Essentials is hosted by Cole Wright, in addition to his pre and post-game duties for Cubs games. Wright came over to Marquee from NFL Network. From the Bears:
The weekly show, “Bear Essentials,” will typically air Tuesday evenings and be hosted by Marquee Sports Network host Cole Wright. Wright, who joined Marquee from the NFL Network, will be joined by Bears personnel and analysts as they break down the week in Bears action and look ahead to the following Bears matchup. Immediately following the show, Marquee Sports Network will air a two-hour director’s cut of the Bears’ most recent regular-season game.
“We’re excited to bring Bears fans more access to the news and information they crave with additional Bears coverage and analysis on Marquee Sports Network,” said Scott Hagel, Bears Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications.”
Due to NFL rules, Bears programming on Marquee is limited to only the Chicago area, in addition to the Rockford and South Bend markets.
The news of the Bears striking a deal with Marquee as RSNs such as them and NBC Sports Chicago are trying to find material to fill as the MLB, NHL, and NBA seasons have wrapped up until next year. NBC Sports Chicago currently has Football Aftershow airing after Bears games and is hosted by David Kaplan.
Marquee was launched last February as many pegged it as an all-Cubs 24/7 channel given the Chicago Cubs and Sinclair Broadcasting are partners. But recently, Marquee added a Saturday afternoon ACC football game from ESPN3 (with Fox Sports branding and graphics) and is expected to air college basketball when (and if) it tips off later this year. Marquee is also airing other college football games from other conferences, such as Conference USA and matches from The Tennis Channel, a Sinclair sister property.
Marquee has also added weekday sports show The Stadium focusing on not only the Cubs, but also other Chicago sports teams not to mention a sports betting show, On The Money. Before the truncated baseball season started in July, Marquee struck a deal with the Chicago area’s largest cable operator Comcast. However, there are still no deals with Dish, Fubo, or YouTubeTV, who dropped Sinclair’s Fox Sports channels two weeks ago.
But adding the Bears gives Marquee a boost and reunites them in a way with the place they called home for 49 years.
“Wrigley Field was home to the Chicago Bears from 1921 to 1970, and it will be spectacular to have Bears coverage back in Wrigleyville on Marquee Sports Network,” said Marquee general manager Mike McCarthy.
The Bears did play in Wrigley until 1970, until the NFL forced them out and into Soldier Field because the stadium lacked certain amenities (i.e. more seats and lights, as 1970 was the year Monday Night Football premiered and the league integrated regular season play with the AFL.) Only two AFL/AFC teams ever played at Wrigley as opponents: the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers. The 1970 season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles was held at Dyche Stadium (now Ryan Field) on the campus of Northwestern University because the Cubs were still playing at Wrigley and was unable to convert to a football configuration.