Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire has announced a local broadcast deal with WGN-TV in a multi-year partnership.
All of the team’s games, apart those aired on national television, will be carried by WGN-TV, including 18 in prime time. Games will also continue to be shown on ESPN’s direct-to-consumer streaming service ESPN+, per the team’s ongoing agreement.
Beginning in April, WGN-TV will debut a monthly series that will feature interviews and profiles of players, coaches, and fans. Fire game coverage will also be regularly featured on the new GN Sports show on WGN-TV, which airs weeknights at 10.30pm CT.
“In this transformational year for our club, we want to provide our fans with as many ways as possible to experience the Fire, both live at Soldier Field and on the broadcast,” said Fire owner Joe Mansueto. “We know WGN-TV’s powerful place on the city’s sports scene and we’re excited to be their new flagship sports property.”
Mansueto has achieved one of his first aims, since taking ownership of the club last year, of providing more reach for Fire games.
On the team’s previous streaming deal with ESPN+, Mansueto told SportBusiness in September: “We have a great product, if you go to one of our games it’s captivating, but not enough people have seen it. I would love to expose the team, the product, to as many people as possible, to let them sample it. I think if they sample it, they will love it.
“A great way to do that is free broadcast television or cable. Right now, we’re on ESPN+, which is a terrific service, but not everyone is paying a premium subscription for it. So I’d like to see us complement ESPN+ with something with a more broad access. I’d love to get our games on as many outlets as possible and easily available so people can play it in bars and wherever you turn,” he said.