Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Recently in Comcast SportsNet Category

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will broadcast 80 regular season games played by the Chicago Cubs during the 2011 season. The first will be on Apr. 2, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

New enhancements to Comcast SportsNet game telecasts this year include a new HD technology that is capable of showing slow-motion replays of over 2,000 frames per second.

Fans will also be able to watch "Pitch Trax," a technology that animates the precise pitch location throughout each game in a variety of angles. Pitch Trax will be available for every game that CSNC broadcasts.

Other enhancements being made this season to Cubs broadcasts include an all-new graphics package and scoring data that features real time stats in a variety of key categories.

Chicago Bulls team ambassador Scottie Pippen will join Comcast SportsNet's game announcing duo of Neil Funk and Stacey King as a color analyst for the March 4th telecast of the game against the Orlando Magic.

In addition, Pippen will handle game analyst duties for every Bulls playoff telecast on CSNC beginning in mid-April. That is, of course, if the Bulls make it to the playoffs, which many knowledgeable observers believe will be the case. CSNC has the rights to telecast only the first round of the NBA playoffs.

"Scottie Pippen is most certainly one of the greatest players in NBA history whose knowledge and passion of the game is second to none," said James J. Corno, president of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Sports broadcaster David Kaplan has signed a new long-term contract with Comcast SportsNet Chicago that will make the cable sports outlet the exclusive TV home for Kaplan beginning in January, 2011.

Kaplan will continue to host the roundtable sports discussion program "Chicago Tribune Live" on CSNC, and beginning in the spring of 2011, he will host CSNC's "Cubs Pre/Post Game Live" shows surrounding the network's Chicago Cubs telecast. Kaplan also will contribute to the "SportsNet Central" sports news program. In addition he will have a dedicated spot on Comcast SportsNet's website, www.csnchicago.com.

Kaplan also will continue as a contributing talent on Tribune Co.'s news/talk WGN-AM (720).

Reporter Jen Patterson has abruptly exited Comcast SportsNet Chicago, where she had been a reporter. Prior to being made a reporter at CSNC, Patterson appeared on "Monsters in the Morning," the ill-fated morning show on CSNC that featured hosts Mike North and Dan Jiggetts.

CSNC spokesman Jeff Nuich offered only the briefest of statements Thursday regarding Patterson's sudden departure: "Jen Patterson is no longer an employee of Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and we wish her well on her future endeavors. Per company policy, we have no further comment on personnel matters." Patterson did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has inked a deal to simulcast editions of Fox Sports Radio's "The Dan Patrick Show," which airs weekdays from 8 to 11 a.m. on the Fox Sports Radio network of more than 200 affiliates nationwide. The Patrick show begins airing on CSNC on Monday, Oct. 25. The set for the Patrick show is described as a sports bar-type environment with a fireplace and sports memorabilia on the walls.

Patrick, a familiar sports media personality, is also a mainstay on NBC Sports, where he is a co-host of "Football Night in America." He was also a contributor to NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2010 Stanley Cup final that featured the Chicago Blackhawks winning their first championship title in 49 years. CSNC will provide local sports updates each day during the airing of "The Dan Patrick Show."

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will air live coverage of the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks convention being held this weekend at the Chicago Hilton Hotel. On Friday, July 30, CSNC coverage will start at 5 p.m., and feature introductions of Hawks players, coaches and front office executives. The coverage also will include video montages from the Hawks Stanley Cup championship season.

Diehard Hawks fans can find more coverage of the convention on line at CSNChicago.com, where there will be additional video footage from the convention.

Are we ready for some hockey? Only two months to go until the start of pre-season games for the 2010-11 NHL season. And the Chicago Blackhawks announced today that four of the team's seven pre-season games will be televised -- the most in franchise history. In addition, two of the games will air on the team's radio home WGN-AM (720).

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will carry the September 22 game against Tampa Bay and the September 24 contest against the Detroit Red Wings. WGN-Channel 9 will broadcast the team's September 25 matchup against Detroit and the October 3 pre-season finale against the St. Louis Blues. WGN-AM also will broadcast the September 25 and October 3 games.

By now it's no secret TV viewership for the Stanley Cup champion Hawks has increased dramatically in just a year's time. Compared with the 2008-09 regular season, ratings for Hawks games on Comcast SportsNet increased 94 percent last season. CSNC also carried nine of the Stanley Cup playoff games during the first two rounds, reaching approximately 2.4 million Chicago households.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago is beefing up its digital offerings at wwwcsnChicago.com. The cable sports channel has unveiled a new look for its Web site with user-friendly features, including the ability to comment on and share videos and play videos from a rotating slide show. The site also boasts a sports video library, with coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, White Sox and Bears. Comcast SportsNet Chicago's managing partner Comcast Sports Group and SB Nation also have established a content-sharing and cross-promotional partnership that will allow sports fans to access content from both outlets on each other's Web sites.

In addition, CSNC has added Joe Marino in the newly-created position of digital sales manager. Marino previously was an account manager with alternative rock WKQX-FM (101.1). Since csnChicago.com relaunched in August, 2009, the site has experienced a 238 percent increase in visits, a 243 percent increase in page views and a 213 percent increase in unique visitors.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has done many things right, but what it has done the best is make itself the must-turn-to cable channel for sports programming in Chicago. And CSNC is getting the ratings to prove it has become a powerhouse cable channel option in the local market.

During the past six weeks from April 1 through May 16, for instance, on every night when it carried a live pro game, CSNC was the highest-rated cable outlet in the Chicago market, besting all other cable channels in both household ratings and in the key 25 to 54 adult demo.

And among all TV outlets -- cable and otherwise -- CSNC was first among men 18 to 34 and men 18 to 49. So the channel is clearly connecting with its core target demos. Certainly the strong ratings performance by the Chicago Blackhawks helped Comcast boost its performance during the past six weeks.

But CSNC president James Corno believes the cable channel's good ratings are proof of the city's strong connection to sports. "The past six weeks have demonstrated the incredible passion of Chicago sports fans and the depth of of our local sports coverage," said Corno.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago ended its season of Chicago Blackhawks game telecasts Tuesday with the Blackhawks' second-round-clinching victory over the Vancouver Canucks. It was not a record-breaking telecast in terms of ratings, even though the game's outcome no doubt thrilled plenty of Blackhawks fans. The game telecast was, however, the second-highest-rated Blackhawks game telecast in Comcast SportsNet history -- notching a 9.93 rating, just slightly behind the all-time 10.14 ratings record set during game three against the Canucks on May 5.

Though no more Blackhawks games will be seen on the cable sports channel this season, CSNC president James Corno promised viewers extended post-game coverage following every Blackhawks game going forward. Plenty of fans no doubt hope the team will go forward all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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