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CSN Chicago Cancelling 'SportsNet Central,' Adding New Shows 'In The Loop' & 'CSN Fast Break'

CSN Chicago is undergoing a significant format change to its traditional sports news presentation, beginning early next month. The long-running nightly sports newscasts "SportsNet Central" are going away. Three brand new news shows will replace "SportsNet Central," two that are more social media and fan interaction oriented, and one that is a fast-paced, sports highlights-only program. Those new shows, "In The Loop," "In The Loop Prime," and "CSN Fast Break," will debut on December 5th.

"In The Loop" and "In The Loop Prime" will be hosted by CSN Chicago's Luke Stuckmeyer and Leila Rahimi. The shows will seek to provide local and national sports news seen through the eyes of the social media universe from both a player and fan perspective. Instead of a traditional news format, such as what "SportsNet Central" did for years, "In The Loop" will focus on on viewer interaction via fan engagement from multiple digital portals, including interactive online polls and social media (CSN Chicago's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts using the hashtag #InTheLoop).

"In The Loop" will air each Sunday through Friday at 6:30pm (unless preempted by live sports broadcasts). Joining Stuckmeyer and Rahimi on the 6:30pm episodes will be number of other CSN Chicago reporters and analysts, as well as additional guests from the sports and entertainment field, all talking about the day's hot sports topics.

Among the featured segments appearing in the 6:30pm editions of "In the Loop" will be "No Huddle," a rapid-fire sports update of the day's top headlines; "Must See Media," a social media congregation of the day's top viral videos, messages, and more from athletes and sports personalities; and "The List," a daily Top 5 list focusing on the day's most-talked about sports events and/or moments, allowing viewers to vote on their top choice.

"In The Loop Prime" will air Sundays through Fridays at 10:00pm and 10:30pm. This show will be similar to the 6:30pm edition, will still be hosted by Stuckmeyer and Rahimi, and will still be very focused on viewer interaction and social media. However, the late night versions will have less emphasis on guests and more emphasis on the evening's top local professional, collegiate, and preps sporting events.

Among the featured segments appearing in the 10:00pm and 10:30pm editions of "In the Loop Prime" will be "No Huddle," a longer sports update of the day's top headlines featuring highlights, players/coaches interviews, and more; "The Play," a comprehensive, detailed breakdown of the single, most impactful play of any given game that took place that particular evening; and "Instant Trivia," a trivia segment that focuses on one unique aspect of a particular game occurring that night which fans can vote on.

The other new program coming to CSN Chicago is "CSN Fast Break," which will air nightly at midnight. This show, which is only 15 minutes in length, deliver a fast-paced recap of all the day's top sports highlights, including post-game player/coaches interviews, as well as a recap of the night's national games and standout moments.

Encore airings of the midnight "CSN Fast Break" episodes will take place between 6:00am and 8:00am and again at noon on CSN Chicago, as well as between 8:30am and noon on CSN+. Additionally, a five-minute version of "CSN Fast Break" will be made available for on-demand viewing on the station's website, CSNChicago.com.

In making the announcement Tuesday, Kevin Cross, CSN Chicago's Sr. Director of News & Original Content, talked about the reasons behind the demise of "SportsNet Central" and the creation of these new shows. Said Cross: "The needs of today's sports fan has changed. We have learned that viewers want more than just highlights. They want to know what their favorite players are up to on social media. They want to be engaged in ways that they can directly be active participants in the content. Most importantly, they want to be entertained, they want to be informed, and they want to have fun. The movement away from the traditional sports news format and the introduction of our new shows on CSN Chicago will engage and involve our viewers like never before."

Along with the new CSN Chicago programs, the station's website recently launched numerous weekly podcasts, which feature insight from CSN Chicago's team of anchors, reporters, analysts, "Insiders," and television/digital producers, along with some current/former players/coaches and media personalities. Currently, there are eight different podcasts. The SportsTalk Live podcast, which has been around since earlier this year, now is accompanied by new podcasts for the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bears, the Blackhawks, the Bulls, the Big Ten, and Fantasy Football. More podcasts could be added in the future. Fans can access these podcasts at CSNChicago.com/Podcasts. The podcasts can also be subscribed to via iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

Another big change at the local sports network is that the station is no longer branding itself as Comcast SportsNet Chicago, choosing to now be branded only by the abbreviation of CSN Chicago. The words "Comcast SportsNet" are gone. The new logo is simply the NBC peacock with the letters CSN -- the same as what most regional CSN networks nationwide utilize.

Despite a recent online blog that claimed these changes at CSN Chicago were causing mass layoffs, that is not the truth. None of the station's many on-air personnel are being released with these changes. All of CSN Chicago's anchors and reporters continue within their respective beats and will naturally be involved in these new shows, along with the station's other existing locally-produced programming. CSN networks nationwide recently went through a "belt-tightening" and some production and behind-the-scenes staff members, including a handful in the Chicago offices, were laid off or their positions were not refilled after a voluntary exit. This is nothing unusual for television networks in the 21st century, as costs often increase, revenues too-often decrease, and automation processes improve.

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