WFLD gets Bears pre-season games and a whole lot more (updated)

Once again, the Chicago Bears have a new broadcast partner. And it’s with a Fox.

This time, and for the first time, Fox-owned WFLD-TV will carry pre-season Bears games and is the new official television station of the team. WFLD outbid the previous carrier, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV. The move also means Spanish-language games broadcast over NBC’s WSNS-TV is also ending.

WFLD’s slogan is “All Bears. All Day”. Their coverage begins this Sunday with Bears Draft Night Live, at 10:35 p.m.

The Bears will produce three pre-season games for WFLD, as well as a Sunday morning pre-game show and a 10 p.m. wrap-up show during the football season. The new Sunday lineup includes the station’s Fox Kickoff Sunday, which moves to 10 a.m.; Bears Game Day Live which keeps it at 10:30 a.m. (the same time slot it head on WMAQ); and Fox’s pre-game show at 11 a.m. On Sunday nights, WFLD’s local sports wrap-up show (The Final Word) stays at 10 p.m., while Bears GameNight Live airs at 10:35 p.m.

The new five-year deal also gives WFLD significant exposure at Soldier Field, at off-season events, and on the Bears’ website. The move makes sense, given the majority of Bears games air on the station through Fox’s NFL coverage of the NFC. The move is a huge boon for WFLD, since the station has had a difficult time making inroads against the other established network-owned stations in Chicago and WGN-TV.

Pre-season games airing on WFLD will be repeated on sister station WPWR-TV the next day. WPWR is also expected to pick up the lone NFL Network game featuring the Bears on the schedule, which the team faces the New Orleans Saints in December.

updated 4:48 p.m. on 2008-04-23 (to add TVWeek link)