High school championships to remain on free TV
Even though the future of WCIU’s affiliation with The CW is unclear due to the sale of the network to Nexstar, there is one guarantee set for the future – Weigel’s stations will be home to the high school sports for sometime to come.
On Monday, Chicago-based Weigel and the Illinois High School Association in junction with digital broadcaster partner NFHS Network signed a multi-year deal to continue airing IHSA championship Final football and basketball contests.
The games will continue to air on flagship outlets CW 26 (WCIU) and The U Too (WMEU/WCUU) and on a network of stations throughout the state, including those owned by Gray, Nexstar, and Paxton Media, in addition to a streaming platform provided by NFHS. In St. Louis, Weigel plans to air games over KNLC’s 24.5 Decades digital subchannel, covering the southwestern portion of Illinois, which is included in the St. Louis market. Weigel acquired KNLC from Larry Rice Ministries in 2017 for distribution of its diginet channels, including MeTV.
“We welcome the opportunity to highlight the best of high school football and basketball in Illinois on statewide broadcast television,” said Steven Farber, who is Weigel Broadcasting Senior Vice President of Operations.
“We are beyond excited to partner with Weigel Broadcasting to continue the tradition of televising the IHSA Football, Girls Basketball, and Boys Basketball State Finals,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Weigel has deep roots in covering IHSA sports and clearly values the community aspects surrounding high school sports that make them so special. I am confident that Weigel’s vision will serve our viewers well and we are eager to kick off the partnership with the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show in October.”
On October 22, IHSA will reveal football playoff pairings in the Football Playoff Pairing Show airing at 7 p.m., and airing a full day of playoff action on Thanksgiving Weekend November 25 and November 26 with the 1A-4A and 5A-8A contests, respectively from Memorial Stadium in Champaign. The high school football season begins this month.
The deal also includes the IHSA Boys and Girls Basketball Championships also from Champaign, taking place in February and March.
Off-and-on over the years, IHSA playoff games have aired on WPWR-TV and Comcast SportsNet. At a time when major local sports rights have moved to regional sports networks or streaming services, the new IHSA deals keeps the championship games on over-the-air television around the state.
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