WISH-TV adds Chicago Blackhawks to growing stable of sports programming

WISH-TV Channel 8—and its sister station WNDY-TV—continue to add sports programming to their offerings and, in the process, may become the go-to stations for Chicago area transplants.

This week, the station announced a new deal to live broadcast 19 Chicago Blackhawks hockey games during this season, which begins Oct. 10 with a game against the New York Islanders.

This is the first time—outside of Canadian cable distribution anomalies involving WGN-TV—that WGN’s Blackhawks coverage will air outside the Chicago market.

“We’re proud to bring the winning tradition of Blackhawks hockey to WISH-TV and [WNDY],” said Les Vann, general manager of the two stations. “The team has won the Stanley Cup three of the last six years and sold out every home game for the last seven seasons. Central Indiana viewers now have a front row seat to hottest team in professional hockey.”

Fresh off a 2015 Stanley Cup win, the Blackhawks figure to be a solid draw in central Indiana. The Indy Fuel is a Blackhawks’ farm team, which should add to the interest.

Since WISH lost its CBS affiliation to WTTV-TV Channel 4 in January, it has been stockpiling live sporting events to replace lost programming and to build its audience.

Last month, WISH announced it would begin airing live local horse races.

Early this year WISH signed a deal to air Indy Eleven soccer games live through 2016. This year, the station is airing all 15 home games for the North American Soccer League team. All game telecasts and a half-hour post-game show for each game are produced under an outsourcing agreement with Indianapolis-based video production firm WebStream Sports.

In March, WISH signed a deal to air 57 Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox baseball games. WISH’s timing was good given that the Cubs made a playoff run.

In June, WISH reached an agreement to carry Atlantic Coast Conference college football and basketball games produced by Raycom Sports through the syndicator’s ACC Network service.

This season, WISH will live broadcast 13 ACC football games and 24 basketball games.

“The Atlantic Coast Conference has a rich tradition in college sports,” said Vann. “The ACC is one of the NCAA’s strongest and most competitive conferences.”

In addition to Duke and North Carolina, the ACC also features the University of Notre Dame in basketball. The Fighting Irish remain independent in football.

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