FSN Chicago logo from 2004–2006
|Launched||1982 (as SportsChannel Chicago)|
|Network||SportsChannel America (1987-97)
Fox Sports Net (1997-2006)
|Owned by||Jerry Reinsdorf & Eddie Einhorn (1982-87)
News Corporation (partial ownership, 1997-2005)
|Broadcast area||Chicago metropolitan area via cable, nationwide via satellite|
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois (general offices)
Bethpage, New York (master control)
|Formerly called||Sportsvision Chicago (1982-89)
SportsChannel Chicago (1989-97)
|Replaced by||Comcast SportsNet Chicago|
Fox Sports Net Chicago was a regional sports network based in Chicago, Illinois. The network carried the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Fire, the Arena Football League's Chicago Rush, local and national collegiate sports, including those from Fox Sports Detroit. The network was co-owned by Cablevision and News Corporation until 2005 when Cablevision bought 100% of the network. FSN Chicago was the production and origination point of the Chicago Sports Report, Ohio Sports Report, and Bay Area Sports Report programs (all 50% owned by Rainbow Sports/Cablevision).
The network began in April 1982 as Sportsvision, a joint venture between then-new owner Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, his fellow White Sox co-owner, television sports producer and promoter Eddie Einhorn, and Fred Eychaner, then-owner of local UHF station WPWR (then on Channel 60, now Channel 50). Since the city of Chicago was one of the last major cities not fully equipped for cable television, Sportsvision was initially an over-the-air subscription service, broadcasting over WPWR during nights and weekends. Viewers had to purchase a set-top converter and pay a monthly fee to view the telecasts, which included Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox games, plus college sports of local interest. Some games / events were also on the ONTV channel at the same time. At this point, the Bulls and White Sox continued to broadcast a number of over-the-air games, while the Blackhawks moved all of their broadcasts to Sportsvision, after many years broadcasting over WSNS (Channel 44). Channel 44 also had ON TV at the time and Sportsvision and ON TV were a joint venture as well and there were set-top converters with a switch to view ON TV or Sportsvision. In 1984 SOX games were on ON TV as well.
The decision of moving most of the White Sox broadcasts to pay television led to longtime announcer Harry Caray to become the play-by-play voice of the rival Cubs, due to the limited exposure that the White Sox would get in having the majority of games being seen in fewer homes. Chicago was (and is still to this day) one of the very few television markets in the country where a very large percentage of the home baseball teams' games were available over-the-air. Until the mid-1990s, the Cubs still televised all of their non-national (ABC, NBC, and later CBS) games over WGN-TV and a regional network of stations throughout parts of the Midwest.
However, by January 1984, the WPWR-Sportsvision partnership became unsuccessful, and as a result, the channel was sold to New York-based cable operator Cablevision Systems Corporation. The channel later became a basic service, and in 1989, the channel became SportsChannel Chicago. In 1997, the network became an affiliate of Fox Sports Net.
Loss of broadcast rights
In October 2004, FSN Chicago lost broadcast rights to all of the professional sports teams in the Chicago area when the owners of the Bulls, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, and the Cubs decided to end their agreement with the network and partnered with Comcast to form Comcast SportsNet Chicago. This led to a number of cable/satellite providers dropping the network. With the end of local pro sports coverage, FSN Chicago was left with national Fox Sports Net programming, some minor local and semi-professional teams and Midwestern outdoors programs of little interest to Chicago area viewers. In 2005, Cablevision bought all of FSN Chicago when NewsCorp swapped assets with the cable company.
The network ceased operations on June 23, 2006, and Comcast SportsNet Chicago moved into the FSN Chicago facility located at 350 North Orleans Street. It also acquired the rights to air the nationally-distributed FSN programs. The old Chicago Sports Report set was purchased (and is now used as the main news set) by NBC affiliate WREX-TV in Rockford, Illinois. The building itself is the current home of the Chicago Sun-Times.