|Slogan||Where Chicago's Very Own Play|
|Major broadcasting contracts||Chicago Cubs and White Sox (MLB)
Chicago Bulls (NBA)
Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
|Parent||Broadcasting division of the Tribune Company|
WGN Sports is the programming division of WGN-TV, a CW-affiliated television station in Chicago, Illinois (owned by Tribune Company subsidiary Tribune Broadcasting), that is responsible for all sports broadcasts on the station, some of which are also broadcast on its national superstation feed WGN America.
Throughout its history WGN-TV has had a long association with Chicago sports. Perhaps with the exception of the NFL's Chicago Bears, each of the city's major professional sports franchises, along with several area collegiate teams, have had its games regularly televised over channel 9.
Cubs and White Sox baseball 
The station's relationship with the Chicago Cubs goes back to channel 9's inception in 1948, and was further cemented during the 28 years (1981 through 2009) that the Tribune Company owned the National League franchise. At the same time, channel 9 was also broadcasting games of Chicago's American League team, the White Sox. Jack Brickhouse, the longtime sports director (and later vice president of sports programming) for the WGN stations, handled home game play-by-play duties for both teams until 1967, when the White Sox ended their first stint on WGN-TV, and continued to call Cubs games until his retirement from broadcasting in 1981. With both teams, Brickhouse called over 5,000 baseball games during his career, sharing the booth with announcers such as Milo Hamilton, Lou Boudreau, Vince Lloyd and Lloyd Pettit.
WGN-TV regained broadcast rights for the White Sox in 1973, but it opted to enter into a contract with WSNS-TV to have that station carry the games, an arrangement that lasted through the 1980 season. With this, White Sox broadcaster Harry Caray joined the WGN family, occasionally sitting in as a sportscaster on the station's newscasts in the 1970s.
Channel 9 carried White Sox games alone in 1981, but the following year WGN lost that team's rights to WFLD-TV. With the retirement of Brickhouse after the 1981 campaign, Caray was dispatched from the South Side to replace Brickhouse as the Cubs' lead TV voice. For the next 16 years, primarily working with analyst Steve Stone, Caray further established his place among Chicago's most-beloved personalities. Like Brickhouse, Caray was known for displaying an unapologetic, home team-oriented enthusiasm to his game calls, punctuated with memorable signature catchphrases for big plays (such as Caray's "Holy Cow!" and Brickhouse's "Hey-hey!"). Caray also brought his unique rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch to the channel 9 broadcast booth. With WGN-TV's prominence as a national superstation in the 1980s and 1990s, Caray's fan base – and that of the Cubs – grew beyond Chicago and the Midwest.
After moving their games to WFLD-TV in 1982 for an eight-year-long run, the White Sox came back to WGN-TV in 1990 when co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf agreed to long-term deals with the station for both the Sox and his NBA franchise, the Chicago Bulls.
Bulls basketball 
The Bulls were on channel 9 from their inception in 1966 until 1973, and again from 1976 until 1985; Jack Brickhouse, Lorn Brown, Milo Hamilton, and Bob Costas were among those assigned to work as Bulls play-by-play announcers, with Johnny "Red" Kerr serving as an analyst. The team returned to WGN-TV for the start of the 1989-90 season, just in time for the Bulls' dominance of the NBA during the Michael Jordan era.
Blackhawks hockey 
The NHL's Chicago Blackhawks were carried by the station from 1961 until 1975. WGN-TV's broadcasts were limited to away games only, as Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz had long prohibited televised coverage of his team's home games. Following Bill Wirtz' death in September 2007, his son and successor Rocky Wirtz ended the home TV blackout, and soon made channel 9 the Blackhawks' new broadcast home. The station has aired 20 games per season through a three-year contract which began in the 2008–09 campaign. On February 15, 2011, it was announced that the team renewed their contract with WGN-TV to be the local broadcaster of the team's games, the five-year extension goes through the 2015-16 NHL season.
Other sporting events 
In November 2010, WGN-TV became the home for Chicago Bears games not aired by a broadcast network, simulcasting NFL Network's Thursday Night Football, as NFL rules require games aired on cable networks to be simulcast on local broadcast station in the team's market. This marked the first time WGN broadcast games from the five major Chicago sports teams in one season.
Along with its coverage of professional teams, WGN-TV also currently holds broadcast rights to the Illinois Derby. The station had formerly broadcast football and basketball games of Chicago area college teams – such as Northwestern University, DePaul University and Loyola University – and other teams of the Big Ten Conference.
Broadcast rights issues 
In 1996, WGN-TV temporarily lost the rights to Chicago Bulls basketball games after a lawsuit was filed by the National Basketball Association over its transmission of Bulls games nationally through its superstation signal. This decision led TCI to remove the superstation feed from some of its cable systems outside the Chicago area. TCI cited the loss of Bulls broadcast rights along with its own decision to make room for additional channels for its decision to drop the superstation feed of WGN; however, viewer outcry over the decision in some markets led TCI to back off plans to drop the WGN superstation feed in five Midwestern states.
In November 2000, WGN-TV and WCIU-TV entered into a programming arrangement involving sports coverage. Selected Bulls and White Sox games, and a handful of Cubs games, produced by and contracted to air on WGN-TV are broadcast on WCIU-TV for the Chicago market only. This is due to network affiliation contracts limiting the number of programming preemptions per year, and also due to rights restrictions put in place by the NBA which limit the WGN America feed to fifteen Bulls games per season.
The remaining Bulls games produced by WGN-TV are split between the station's Chicago area signal and WCIU-TV. Blackhawks games on channel 9 are exclusive to the Chicago market but they are also broadcast on Canadian cable and satellite systems as they carry the Chicago-area feed; some Blackhawks games do show up on NHL Network using the WGN feed. In 2010, sports coverage produced by WGN-TV for broadcast on WCIU was rebranded as "WGN Sports on The U", despite WGN having produced these sports telecasts for WCIU. The coverage had previously been broadcast under the titles "BullsNet", "CubsNet" and "SoxNet", rather than under the WGN name.
Sporting events cleared to air in the U.S. exclusively on WGN-TV in Chicago are telecast on Canadian cable and satellite systems as they carry the Chicago-area feed instead of WGN America; they are also carried in Canada on the leagues' cable packages.
- White Sox, Bulls Leave Channel 32 For Channel 9, Chicago Tribune, September 15, 1989. Retrieved 12-10-2010.
- Blackhawks return to WGN-TV | About the Station | WGNTV.com | WGN TV | Chicago's CW
- Katz, Richard. "Networks on chopping block; TCI makes mincemeat of programmers' lineups", Multichannel News, December 2, 1996. Retrieved February 24, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Becker, Dave. "TCI Will Retain WGN in Madison, The Superstation Will Be Available in Five States", The Wisconsin State Journal, December 20, 1996. Retrieved March 1, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Confirmed by WGN-TV "WGN-TV Contact Page". Accessed June 8, 2007.
- Chicago Professional Sports L.P. & WGN Continental Broadcasting Co. vs. National Basketball Association. 961 Fed. 2d 667 (7th Cir. 1992)