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I did a quick search and didn't see this posted... my apologies if it's already up here.


From today's Chicago Tribune (online here :


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Comcast may buy Chicago channel

Team owners seen as key to a deal with Cablevision


Published September 11, 2003



Cable TV giant Comcast Corp., which has shown some interest in creating its own sports channel in Chicago, may now end up purchasing one instead.


The Philadelphia-based cable operator, which secured a significant Chicago presence last year with its $29 billion purchase of AT&T's cable operation, is said to be talking with Rainbow Sports parent Cablevision Systems Corp. about buying at least two of its regional Fox Sports Net cable channels in Chicago and San Francisco, according to more than one source close to the negotiations.


However, these sources on Wednesday cautioned that a deal is not imminent. Negotiations will likely hinge on whether the current pro sports franchises that currently have deals with Fox Sports Net commit to stay with the regional channels.


In Chicago, that means Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Cubs; Jerry Reinsdorf, who heads a consortium that owns both the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls; and Bill Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, would all have to agree to stick with the network.


That doesn't appear to be a problem, since there are few if any other cable TV options for these teams currently on the table anywhere. Comcast, with nearly 28 million subscribers nationwide, is the country's leading cable operator by a wide margin over No. 2 AOL Time Warner.


What is not clear is whether Tribune Co., Reinsdorf and Wirtz would have an equity stake in the new entity that would be owned by Comcast.


Tribune and Comcast executives wouldn't comment. Reinsdorf, Wirtz and Rainbow executives couldn't be reached.


Tribune, which owns this newspaper, WGN-Ch. 9, Chicago Magazine and WGN-AM 720 in Chicago, along with Reinsdorf and Wirtz had expressed interest in starting a new cable sports network that would carry Cubs, Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks games.


Tribune was interested in such a deal as a way to keep all of its advertising revenue in-house, even though it currently receives a yearly fee for rights from Rainbow's Fox Sports Net.


Fox Sports Net currently carries 72 Cubs games, 102 White Sox games, 44 Bulls games and 39 Hawks games, as well as ancillary pregame and postgame coverage.


If such a deal is struck, Comcast would in essence eliminate the Fox Sports Net middleman--and the subscriber fee Comcast now pays to carry the station in its channel lineup.


Such a venture wouldn't be new for Comcast. It currently operates its own regional sports channels in Philadelphia--where it owns the 76ers and Flyers teams--and in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore markets.


During the past few years, several owners have either started or have contemplated starting their own sports networks as a way to snare more revenue as team operation costs continue to skyrocket.


Last year, the New York Yankees started the YES network, which carries Yankees games and team-related programming in the Northeast. However, a dispute with Cablevision has kept the games out of much of Manhattan.


Tribune, Reinsdorf and Wirtz are in the midst of a 10-year rights deal with Fox Sports Net. But the owners have an out-clause in the deal that can be exercised by the end of 2003.
 

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I saw the same article this morning. Could be promising for HD broadcasts of those sports. I believe Comcast Sports Net on the east coast does quite a bit of HD broadcasts. I hope we can to see Scottie Pippen creaking his way to the basket. ("This week's Bulls HD broadcast brought to you by AARP")


Mike K
 

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Non-HD question...what would this potentially mean for satellite subscribers? Would "Comcast Sports Net Chicago" still be available on DirecTV and Dish Network like Fox Sports Net Chicago is, or would Comcast keep it away from the satellite providers?


Marc
 

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Quote: "...its regional Fox Sports Net cable channels in Chicago and San Francisco...."


If this brings HD to Fox Sports Net Bay Area-- this is the name of the Fox Sports Net in the San Francisco area-- sooner than it would otherwise, I am all for it. Home games of San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's, San Jose Sharks, and GS Warriors in HD. Maybe even San Jose Earthquakes (but probably not, since HDNet has an "exclusive" deal with MLS to produce MLS games in HD, and because Earthquakes don't like to televise home games in order to promote more attendance). Possibly some local college football (Cal, Stanford) and pre-season NFL games in HD.


And, for those HD baseball fans outside of this market, more HD MLB options for the InHD channels.


Comcast SportsNet seems to have done the best job of any regional network in producing HD events, so Comcast ownership would clearly be an asset to the region. With Rainbow's various problems, it could be 5 or 6 years before it gets around to producing local pro sports in HD in this area. Unless there is some other buyer out there with even more HD potential, I am rooting for Comcast to make the buy.
 

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SonomaSearcher, Comcast has done the best HD broadcasts I have seen (still haven't seen any CBS though). As time went on last season I saw pixellation free Flyers/Sixers games with Wow factor. Their DD 5.1 has an on the court/ice feel to it too. I can't wait for next year when every home flyers/sixers/phillies game on CSN will be in HD.


I would assume this would also mean more INHD content like you said.
 

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if comcast does buy fox sports net chicago hopefully we'll get some hawks/sox/bulls and cubs games in HDTV at some point
 

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I echo MarcVoc's question -- what does this mean for DBS subscribers? Will this be available via satellite?


And if the cable version is HD, will the satellite version be? (My guess is not likely.)


I pulled the plug on cable years ago and will never go back, even if it means missing HD Cubs and other Chicago sports teams.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by SonomaSearcher
Quote: "...its regional Fox Sports Net cable channels in Chicago and San Francisco...."


If this brings HD to Fox Sports Net Bay Area-- this is the name of the Fox Sports Net in the San Francisco area-- sooner than it would otherwise, I am all for it. Home games of San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's, San Jose Sharks, and GS Warriors in HD. Maybe even San Jose Earthquakes (but probably not, since HDNet has an "exclusive" deal with MLS to produce MLS games in HD, and because Earthquakes don't like to televise home games in order to promote more attendance).
Don't forget the KINGS baby! I know the Maloof team is anxious to get the Kings broadcast in HD, and this would allow for it.


My concern for Fox Sports Bay Area in HD is the number of teams on the channel, the geography, and the likely lack of HD equipment. 2 NBA teams, 2 MLB teams, 1 NHL team (although three of these teams all play in the same compound), college, and even some minor league baseball games. Will they actually show a good portion of pro sports in HD?


Jeff
 

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Comcast would probably make HD feeds of regional sports networks they have purchased available to satellite providers, knowing that D* & E* would have difficulty finding available bandwidth. Cable will be hard to ignore if it offers Sox, Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks games in HD that aren't available elsewhere.
 

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I would doubt that any HD produced by Comcast will ever be on satellite (except if E* or D* picks up INHD). Philly/DC areas already have CSN-HD and it doesn't seem like that channel will ever be on a satellite service.
 
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