Published on Monday, 15 October 2012 15:23
This coming Monday night (10/22/12) will be the big football game between the Chicago Bears and their division rivals, the Detroit Lions, which will be shown nationally on ESPN. While that network is carried by every cable and satellite television provider, that still does not help those without cable or satellite. To make it easy for Chicagoans to watch the game, Chicago's WCIU-TV/Channel 26, The U has secured the rights to air the live simulcast of the ESPN "Monday Night Football" broadcast on its station.
That's not all that will be seen on the station that night, either...
ESPN will also have a lengthy two-hour pre-game show starting at 5:30pm with Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, Mike Ditka, Keyshawn Johnson, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson, Steve Young, and Trent Dilfer. This pre-game show will only be shown on ESPN, though, not on WCIU-TV. In it's place, WCIU-TV will have its own, exclusive, entirely locally-focused and produced pre-game show.
At 7:00pm Monday night, The U will present the "Hyundai Night Football Pre-Game Show." The pregame show will be hosted by veteran Chicago sports anchor Jill Carlson, along with former Chicago Bears defensive end Alex Brown. Joining the show will be Chicago media superstars Mike North and Dan Jiggetts, who will be talk about the upcoming game. WCIU-TV Sports Director Kenny McReynolds former Chicago Blackhawks host/anchor/reporter Jim Blaney will be reporting on the game live from Soldier Field. The Executive Producer of the local show will be Chicago broadcasting legend Fred Weintraub.
Said Weintraub in a statement today: "I know that we have a strong on-air team with Jill Carlson and Alex Brown. There is no one who will be more prepared than Jill Carlson to breakdown the Chicago/Detroit match-up in a way that is both easy to understand and educational. With former Chicago Bear, Alex Brown, viewers will be treated to analysis that you can only get if you are on the inside. It should be a great evening of football."
ESPN's "Monday Night Football" game broadcast, which begins at 7:30pm, will feature announcers Mike Tirico on the play-by-play and analyst Jon Gruden. Lisa Salters will serve as the sideline reporter. That broadcast will be simulcast in its entirety on WCIU-TV in the Chicago market. The station's nighttime programming of mostly 30-minute long syndicated comedies will be preempted.
Immediately following the ESPN simulcast, at approximately 10:30pm, WCIU-TV will again be live & local with the "Hyundai Night Football Post Game Show," scheduled to run until 11:00pm. Jill Carlson, Alex Brown, Kenny McReynolds, and Jim Blaney will be on the air to wrap up the game, talking about the highlights and news, as well as feature post game interviews.
Bob Ramsey, WCIU-TV Vice President and General Manager, said today: "It's always a great night of football when the Bears and Lions get together. We're looking forward to the game along with fun and exciting pre-game and post game shows."
If this local coverage of Monday night's Bears game sounds exciting, there will be a sequel in a few weeks. On Monday, November 19th, the Chicago Bears will take on the San Francisco 49ers on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," in what could be their toughest game of the season. WCIU-TV has also secured the rights to simulcast that game. Carlson and Brown will return to anchor that night's pre-game and post-game coverage, and McReynolds and Blaney will again be reporting for the broadcast. Additionally, Mike North and Dan Jiggetts have been signed to deliver commentary for that pre-game show, as well.
ESPN and ABC share the same principal owner in The Walt Disney Corporation. For that reason, the local simulcast was offered first to ABC-owned WLS-TV/ABC 7 Chicago. Even though every Chicago Bears game broadcast for the last few years is by far the #1 rated broadcast of that particular week, Chicago's WLS-TV chose to reject all three of the ESPN simulcasts of Bears games for this NFL season, so as to air the reality show "Dancing With The Stars" without a delay. The simulcast then became available for any local Chicago outlet, and Weigel Broadcasting quickly grabbed the rights to locally air this coming Monday night's game and the one in November. Weigel Broadcasting's WCIU-TV as unable to simulcast the first "Monday Night Football" Bears game of the season due to commitments to air WGN Sports' broadcast of a Chicago White Sox game.