IHSA & Comcast SportsNet Chicago Announce Expanded Broadcast Partnership

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the television and online home for the most in-depth coverage of local and regional preps sports coverage, along with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and PlayOn! Sports, have announced a long-term partnership agreement making the regional sports network the official home of 59 IHSA State Championship events, which equates to over 160 hours of dedicated Illinois prep sports coverage. The announcement was made by Phil Bedella, VP/GM of Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Marty Hickman, Executive Director of the IHSA and Tim Eichorst, President of PlayOn! Sports.

Beginning this scholastic year (2014-15), Comcast SportsNet will be the exclusive television home for the following IHSA Championship events, which will be produced and delivered via PlayOn! Sports:

IHSA Football Playoffs (12 games & pairing show)

• LIVE - Playoff Pairing Reveal Show (October 25, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

• LIVE - Eight (Class 1A-8A) state championship games (to be held Nov. 28-29 this year)

• LIVE - Four playoff match-ups leading up to the state championships (to be held Nov. 1, 8, 15 & 22)

IHSA Basketball State Championship Tournament (32 games)

• LIVE - Girls Class 1A-4A state tournament semifinals (8 games), consolation (4 games), and championship game (4 games) – to be held the weekends of Feb. 27-28 & Mar. 6-7, 2015

• LIVE - Boys Class 1A-4A state tournament semifinals (8 games), consolation (4 games), and championship game (4 games) – to be held the weekends of Mar. 13-14 & Mar. 20-21, 2015

Additional IHSA Championship events (15 total, all delayed telecasts)

• Boys Soccer (Class 1A-3A) – airing in Fall of 2014

• Girls Volleyball (Class 1A-4A) – airing in Fall of 2014

• Competitive Dance – airing in Winter of 2015

• Competitive Cheerleading – airing in Winter of 2015

• Individual Wrestling (Class 1A-3A) – airing in Winter of 2015

• Girls Soccer (Class 1A-3A) – airing in Spring of 2015

(NOTE: Exact air dates/times/channel locations for all upcoming IHSA Championship events will be announced at a later date.)

“This new, expanded partnership with the IHSA and PlayOn! Sports is a significant moment for not only our network, but also for our viewers,” said Bedella. “Our state has a multitude of gifted student-athletes that the majority of our viewers may not be aware of at this time and that will certainly change going forward. This agreement will now enable us to showcase these standout athletes with over 160 hours of local preps championship coverage per scholastic year, which is a perfect complement to our already dedicated in-depth on-air/online coverage of the Illinois preps scene. On behalf of Comcast SportsNet, I would like to thank Marty Hickman and Tim Eichorst for their tremendous assistance in making this partnership become a reality.”

“We are proud of our partnership with Comcast SportsNet Chicago and excited to see it continue to expand,” added Hickman. “This partnership allows us to showcase the accomplishments of even more student-athletes, coaches and schools to a larger audience of communities across Illinois. CSN offers innovations like high definition that have raised our championship telecasts to a new level.”

“As the broadcasting partner of the IHSA, providing the best broadcasts to the largest audience possible has always been the goal of PlayOn! Sports,” added Eichorst. “That made working with the undisputed sports leader in Chicago and Illinois, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, a priority from day one. It was exciting to watch this partnership come to fruition and even more so now to see it continue to blossom.”

In addition to the new partnership agreement delivering fans with 59 IHSA championship events per scholastic year, Comcast SportsNet also proudly provides viewers with the following key preps highlights throughout the year:

• HIGH SCHOOL LITES – Airing every Friday night at 11:00 PM, Comcast SportsNet provides fans with a half-hour local preps-focused program featuring numerous highlights, scores and interviews from around the region. Every week, “High School Lites” features the “Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Game of the Week,” featuring highlights and postgame interviews and analysis from “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran.

• IHSA FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PAIRING SHOW – Airing on Saturday, October 25 at 8:00 PM, Comcast SportsNet airs a live, two-hour Football Playoff Pairing Show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via live interactive stream on the internet at IHSA.tv and CSNChicago.com. The show will also provide expert analysis and interviews, along with live look-ins across the state for instant reaction with teams as their school’s name and opponent are revealed.

• CSNCHICAGO.COM’s “DRIVE,” PRESENTED BY NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY – Now in its fourth season, Comcast SportsNet’s digital outlet – CSNChicago.com – delivers an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at a local high school team as they go from the early days of summer practice, all the way through to the playoffs. This season, nine-time state champion Providence Catholic H.S. is the featured team. During an amazing run, Providence has made the IHSA Football Playoffs in 29 of the past 31 seasons. Please note the following link for “Drive” webisodes: http://www.csnchicago.com/drive-providence-catholic. In addition, fans are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s dedicated preps section featuring the very latest IHSA news, scores, videos, “CSN Preps Power Rankings” and much more: csnchicago.com/preps.

• “EDGY TIM” – Back for his second season, Comcast SportsNet’s local preps expert/veteran Illinois high school football sports writer/recruiting authority “Edgy Tim” O’Halloran (@EDGYTIM) will provide multiple, exclusive, written feature stories each week for CSNChicago.com focusing on Chicago-area high school football players, coaches, team profiles, recruiting news/notes, game previews/recaps, general interest articles, player rankings, along with his popular, weekly Top 25 team “CSN Preps Power Rankings.” In addition, “Edgy Tim” will also make weekly appearances on “High School Lites.” “Edgy Tim’s” work is also showcased on Rivals.com from Yahoo! Sports via EdgyTim.com.

• SCOTT PHILLIPS – Also back for his second season, local high school basketball reporter – and NBC “College Basketball Talk” contributor – Scott Phillips (@phillipshoops) will feature extensive reports on the high school basketball scene in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. Phillips will also provide ample coverage on the recruiting scene and will be a key contributor to the “CSN Preps Power Rankings” throughout the season.

• TWITTER – For up-to-the-minute IHSA news, scores, and stories, preps fans are urged to visit Comcast SportsNet’s dedicated Twitter handle @CSNPreps, along with the IHSA’s platforms for news (@IHSA_IL) scores (@IHSAScoreZone) and an unprecedented perspective (@IHSAState).