Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox have a new TV home, but questions remain before Chicago Sports Network launches this fall

The Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox have a new broadcast home for their next seasons with Monday’s announcement that the Chicago Sports Network will launch in October.

The network said in a news release that all three teams’ games will be available through “traditional cable providers, streaming services and free, over-the-air broadcast” and “will reach a widely expanded Midwest footprint, including most of Illinois and parts of Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin, pending league approvals.”

The network offered limited details in the wake of the announcement, and its ownership now faces a short runway to get a new media company off the ground in time for the Bulls and Hawks seasons in the fall.

There are plenty of questions to answer before then. What type of auxiliary programming will be offered? What purchases — such as satellite antenna or cable subscription — would fans need to make in order to watch their teams? And who will be on the air as game commentators, pregame and postgame hosts and sideline talent?

Bulls broadcasters Adam Amin and Stacey King are expected to retain their roles for the 2024-25 season, while a source said on-air talent for the Hawks “is not yet confirmed.”

The Chicago Sports Network (CHSN) said it has begun the hiring process for staff and will announce distribution and media agreements as they are finalized throughout the summer.

The network will be produced in partnership with Nashville, Tenn.-based Standard Media. Jason Coyle, formerly president of the Stadium network, was named CHSN president.

“As we set out to design the network, we began and ended every discussion with the simple question: What is best for our fans?” Coyle said in a statement. “What is the best approach to distribution? How can we push the limits of both in-game and studio production? We plan to serve our fans on as many platforms and in as many markets as our rights allow.”

The teams’ contract with NBC Sports Chicago, which has held the rights for all three teams since 2004, is set to expire in October. NBCSCH will continue to air the remainder of the 2024 Sox season.

Launching a regional network is a common trend in professional sports, with more than 30 teams from the New York Yankees to the Portland Trail Blazers starting their own standalone broadcast companies over the past two decades. Some attempts have been more successful than others: The then-Charlotte Bobcats gave up after a year, the Kansas City Royals never debuted their proposed network and the Houston Rockets have floundered through several rocky trials.

The success of a franchise-affiliated regional network fluctuates depending upon market, accessibility and team success. The concept isn’t new in Chicago, where the Cubs serve as the cornerstone of Marquee Sports Network with additional broadcast offerings for the Sky, Red Stars and regional programming such as the Chicago Hounds rugby team and local college and high school games.

CHSN would differ from Marquee in one key feature: over-the-air (OTA) accessibility.

Viewers can access OTA broadcasts via a satellite antenna, eliminating the need for a cable or streaming subscription. A Bulls source confirmed to the Tribune that all games on CHSN, including Hawks and Sox games, would be available for free OTA.

Tribune reporter Phil Thompson contributed.