WGN-TV to add nightly sports show

Jarett Payton and Dan Roan on the set of CLTV’s “Sports Feed” in 2016.

Continues programming expansion at Bradley Place

Nexstar once again continues its push for more programming out of WGN’s Bradley Place by launching a nightly sports show at 10:30 p.m.

Billed as “GN Sports”, the program is hosted by WGN sports anchors Dan Roan and Jarrett Payton. The show displaces one of two airings of off-network sitcom The Goldbergs, which relocates to 12:30 a.m.

While a few stations do a nightly sports show, it’s typically on the tail end of a newscast and lasts only 15 minutes, similar to what WGN sister station KTLA (Sports Final) and CBS-owned independent KCAL (Sports Central) in Los Angeles does. But WGN’s effort is a full half-hour and airs at 10:30 p.m. The program is scheduled to start January 28.

According to a press release, the new show “will feature sports news and highlights of the day, in-studio guest interviews on upcoming matches, as well as the latest in sports gaming, fantasy sports and more.” The first week features Payton from Super Bowl LIV in Miami, and will regularly feature reports from Lauren Magiera and Josh Frydman.

The move to create GN Sports was made in part to at least have some sports presence on the station as WGN lost the rights to all four pro sports teams last year. It also brings a nightly sports show back to local television after the demise of Sports Page, a victim of CLTV closing up shop last month.

The addition of another local show is part of Nexstar’ plans to expand local programming at WGN. Earlier this month, WGN added more weekend newscasts in early morning and at 10 p.m. and a political show, the generically-titled WGN-TV Political Report. And last week, Nexstar announced a national news effort from WGN’s Bradley Place studios called News Nation to air on WGN America beginning next summer.

Moreover, the addition of GN Sports is another blow to syndicators – especially the off-network sitcom business as WGN – like other stations across the country – are bailing out on the genre altogether as viewers of such fare are more likely to binge-watch those type of shows on streaming services (WGN still airs off-net sitcoms in prime-time seven nights a week and after 11 p.m.) This continues a trend where local stations are filling time periods with news and home-grown fare and in some cases (such as the Fox O&Os) more first-run syndicated programming.

And GN Sports is a decent alternative to late-night talk shows on the broadcast networks and those obnoxious anchors on ESPN’s SportsCenter, where at least one version of the show often degenerates into lousy “Bad Beats” highlights and dumb sound effects.

The arrival of GN Sports has no effect on WGN’s traditional Sunday night sports wrap-up show Instant Replay, which continues to air at 9:40 p.m.

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