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With snow on the ground and freezing temperatures in the air, it may seem like the baseball season is a long way away. But officials for WNDY-TV Channel 23 and sister station WISH-TV Channel 8 are already getting in the swing.
WNDY and WISH officials are set to launch a sizable marketing campaign early next month as they prepare to air Chicago Cubs and White Sox games for the fourth year.
The first preseason game, which will feature the Cubs playing the White Sox, is set to air on WNDY on Feb. 27.
“The Cubs and White Sox games have been a big plus for us,” said Randy Ingram, vice president and general manager of WNDY and WISH. “Last year, ratings were up, and we did a whole lot better from a revenue standpoint.”
Ingram declined to divulge particulars on revenue, but said broadcasting the games has generated a profit.
“The advertising growth we had during those games was really amazing,” Ingram said. “We saw advertisers across all categories.”
The ratings across Cubs and White Sox games on WNDY and WISH were up nearly 10 percent through June 2017 over the same period a year earlier, according to Nielsen Media Research. In July and August, the games airing on WNDY and WISH were up more than 10 percent over the same period a year earlier.
“The Cubs coming off the  World Series win, certainly played a big part in that,” Ingram said.
The increase spiked in September, when the year-over-year ratings increase for that month hit 33 percent, according to Nielsen. While the White Sox had a losing season, the Cubs won the National League’s Central Division, which Ingram said fueled the late-season ratings surge.
Some weekend Cubs and White Sox games, Ingram noted, were No. 1 in the local market in their time slot.
“That really shows the kind of following the Cubs and White Sox have here,” Ingram said.
Ingram thinks as more people get used to watching Cubs and White Sox games locally, the viewership could grow higher.
The vast majority of games locally air live on WNDY, with a handful airing on WISH.
WNDY and WISH this year will air 70 Cubs and 55 White Sox regular season games and five preseason games. That will be a slight decrease from 134 games aired last year.
WNDY and WISH have a one-year deal to broadcast Cubs and White Sox games in 2018.