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Comcast SportsNet Chicago & WMAQ-TV Sports Anchors Begin To Merge Together

Later today, it is expected that WMAQ-TV will announce that the long-anticipated merger* of sports departments between WMAQ-TV and Comcast SportsNet Chicago will be finally starting... albeit slowly. With both station's parent companies now owned & operated by the Comcast Corporation, it was only a matter of time before the merging of staff & resources started. It will begin to be publicly noticed very soon, first on WMAQ-TV's weekend news & sportscasts.

* NOTE: See update at the bottom of this article regarding use of the word "merge" (and its variations).

Comcast SportsNet reporter Sarah Kustok will now anchor the sports segment on Friday night newscasts. CSN Chicago anchor Pat Boyle will now take over the Sunday night sports wrap-up show, "Sports Sunday Live."

Sarah Kustok has been with Comcast SportsNet Chicago since 2009, mainly as a feature reporter on the station's news shows and a sideline reporter for its Bulls and Blackhawks broadcasts. A Chicago-area native, she was a stand-out sports star in both high school and college.

Pat Boyle has been with Comcast SportsNet Chicago since it launched 2004, anchoring its sports newscasts and hosting the Bears programming. In 2006, Boyle won a local Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence On Camera: News-Sportscaster. For five years prior to that, he was an anchor with ESPN, and worked with CSN Philadelphia before his national ESPN job..

With the sad death of Daryl Hawks and the exit of Paula Faris from NBC5's sports department, both in the last year, a lack of quality there has been perceived by many. WMAQ-TV promoted Chicago sports reporting veteran Mike Adamle to full-time and has been using WSCR-AM/670 The Score's Laurence Holmes for some sports anchor work to try and fill the gaps, but audience complaints and lackluster response about NBC5's sports staff persist. The move to bring in some of CSN Chicago's brightest stars is an attempt to bolster NBC5's sports team and give longtime viewers some fresh faces to experience, while giving Chicago sports fans trusted & known local sports broadcasting talents.

As time goes on, expect to see more assimilation between the WMAQ-TV sports department and the staff at Comcast SportsNet Chicago. This could also mean using NBC5 sports anchors on CSN Chicago, although there are no immediate plans for that.

In January 2011, Comcast took over controlling interest in NBC Universal and all its properties. Since then, WMAQ-TV/NBC5 is 100% owned by the new Comcast-run NBCUniversal parent company. Comcast SportsNet Chicago is 20% owned by NBCUniversal and 100% operated by them. (The other 80% ownership is divided up evenly between the organizations owning the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago White Sox, and the Chicago Cubs.) Chicago's WSNS-TV/Telemundo Chicago is also owned by Comcast's NBCUniversal.

UPDATE 11:30am: A WMAQ-TV official points out to CRM that unlike in other markets, where the Comcast SportsNet staff has greatly merged with the local NBC-TV staffs, the Chicago relationship will not be a true merger, at least not at this time. WMAQ-TV is merely taking advantage of the talent at its sister-station CSN Chicago and using some of them to increase the quality of the NBC5 sportscasts, rather than bringing in unknowns from outside of the market to do so. For now though, it is not a "merger." It is just NBC5 cross-promoting and borrowing from another station in its Chicago family.

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