Fox 32 re-ups with the Bears to be the “official station” of the team


NFL team took team’s non-regular season game rights to market, opts to stay with Fox

While the Chicago Bears are now expanding their search for a new home to suburbs other than Arlington Heights, at least the team isn’t going anywhere when it comes to official team programming on local TV (and answers one of our ten questions in the 2023: A Look Ahead column written last January.)

On Thursday, Fox-owned WFLD or Fox 32, announced a new multi-year deal with the Bears to continue as the team’s “official station”, meaning for pre-season games, pre- and post-game shows, and other team programming. The new pact continues a relationship with a team that was formed in 2008 (WFLD has carried Bears regular season games since 1994 as part of its parent network’s NFC rights deal.) The Bears season kicks off on Fox 32 with a locally-televised August 12 preseason game at noon against the Tennessee Titans from Soldier Field, with two other preseason games scheduled for August 19 and August 26, respectively. 

“Fox 32 is thrilled to continue our amazing partnership and remain the Home of the Bears,” said Matt Piacente, WFLD VP and news director in a statement. “We understand the enthusiasm of Bears fans and are committed to providing them with the premium coverage they demand.” 

Continuing to air on Fox 32 is the weekly Bears GameDay Live hosted by Lou Canellis, Jeff Joniak, and Tom Thayer, usually airing Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. before Fox’s NFL pregame show and also at 10:30 p.m. Sundays as an analysis of the day’s game (or a preview if they play on Monday night.) Also continuing is Bears PostGame Live, which has the team’s exclusive post-game press conferences and airs either on Fox 32 after the game or on sister station My50 (WPWR), when there is a conflict with Fox network programming (usually a doubleheader game or its prime-time lineup.) 

Also back is Bears Unleashed. Hosted by Cassie Carlson, the show has a new time slot on Friday, scheduled an hour later than it previously was at 10:30 p.m. 

While the Bears did say specials would air throughout the season, the team did not mention anything about their weekly TV show Inside The Bears, which aired on Fox 32 and My50 until early this year. It is not known if the show would return. 

The Bears let their contract with WFLD expire and shopped the team’s rights around. Among the reported suitors were the Cubs/Sinclair’s Marquee Sports Network and Nexstar’s WGN-TV. However, the Bears might have been concerned about the limited reach of Marquee as the regional sports network model has begun to collapse with Diamond’s Bally Sports Networks in bankruptcy and AT&T SportsNet looking to dissolve – not to mention Marquee having Cubs games on Sundays in September. While WGN would have been a better fit than Marquee, it has commitments to carry LIV Golf through November. (WGN and other Nexstar stations were removed from DirecTV last Sunday.) Thus, it made sense for the Bears to stick with Fox 32 – not to mention having another station through a duopoly to carry its postgame show live.

Marquee still has a deal with the team to carry Bear Essentials, a mid-week review show. NBC Sports Chicago carries an unofficial post-game show on Sundays after Bears games and a year-around nightly show, Football Night In Chicago

While the Bears will stay put on linear TV, they will have a new radio home this summer as the team’s games and programming moved to ESPN 1000 – in case you haven’t heard. 


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