There are certain things in life that are guaranteed. CBS’ morning show languishing in the ratings basement. Wheel of Fortune topping the syndicated ratings chart every week. And Chicago Blackhawks home games blacked out on local TV.
Well, one of things may be coming to an end.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting on its website that the Chicago Blackhawks are considering televising some home games over Comcast Sportsnet beginning sometime this season. Rocky Wirtz, who took over operations after the death of his father, longtime owner William (Bill) Wirtz, is considering such a move.
This comes as attendance and interest for the Blackhawks has waned over the years.
Up to a half-dozen games are to be televised, the majority coming toward the end of the season. The first is likely to air November 11, when the Detroit Red Wings come to town.
Any conflicting sporting event televised by CSN is cleared on CLTV, the local news channel owned by the Tribune Co. (The Trib and four of Chicago’s six pro teams own a financial stake in the channel.) Other sporting commitments are limiting the number of Blackhawks home games available to air this season.
Rocky Wirtz’s decision marks a huge departure from the home blackout policies his grandfather (Arthur Wirtz) instituted in the 1950’s, and later, his son Bill. They feared television – even cable or satellite TV – would hurt attendance. The Chicago Blackhawks are the last professional sports team in North America (outside the NFL) to have such a policy.