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 (AFL)'s Chicago Rush, local & national collegiate sports, including those from FOX Sports Detroit. The network was co-owned by Cablevision & News Corporation until 2005 when Cablevision bought 100% of the network. FSN Chicago was the production & origination point of the Chicago Sports Report, Ohio Sports Report & 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 & White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, his fellow White Sox co-owner, TV sports producer & promoter Eddie Einhorn & Fred Eyechaner, then-owner of local UHF station WPWR (then on Ch. 60, now on Ch. 50). Since the city of Chicago was not yet fully equipped for cable TV (1 of the last major cities to do so), Sportsvision was initially an over-the-air subscription service, broadcasting over WPWR during nights & weekends. Viewers had to purchase a set-top converter & pay a monthly fee to view the telecasts, which included Bulls, Blackhawks & White Sox games + college sports of local interest. At this point, the Bulls & 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).
The decision of moving most of the White Sox broadcasts to pay TV 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 (& is still to this day) one of the very few TV 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 & later CBS) games over WGN-TV & a regional network of stations throughout parts of the Midwest.
However by January of 1984, the WPWR-Sportsvision partnership became unsuccessful & as a result, the channel was sold to New York-based cable operator Cablevision Systems Corporation. The channel later became a basic service & in 1989, the channel became SportsChannel Chicago. In 1997, the network became an affiliate of FOX Sports Net
Loss of broadcast rightsEdit
In October of 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 & the Cubs decided to end their agreement with the network & partnered with Comcast to form Comcast SportsNet Chicago. This lead to a number of cable/satellite providers dropping the network. With the end of local pro sports coverage, FSN Chicago became mostly a feeder channel of the national network's entire schedule, some minor local & semi-professional teams, Midwestern outdoors programs & sports rights & games from other college conferences 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 23rd, 2006 & Comcast SportsNet Chicago now occupies the former FSN Chicago facility located @ 350 North Orleans Street. They have also acquired the rights to air the nationally-distributed FSN programs. The old Chicago Sports Report set was purchased (& is now used as the main news set) by NBC affiliate WREX in Rockford, Illinois. The building itself is the current home of the Chicago Sun-Times