WGN loses Fire as MLS moves games to Apple

The Fire’s exit from WGN isn’t as disappointing as that of the other teams in town, which had decadeslong relationships with the station. But it’s further evidence of the evolving sports-media landscape.

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WGN TV will be without a team next year when MLS puts all of its games on Apple TV.

The Fire are in their third season on WGN, which lost the Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox after their 2019 seasons. The station was able to stay in local sports broadcasting when it began simulcasting Fire games on ESPN+.

But the league announced a 10-year deal with Apple this week, becoming the first to go all-in with a streaming service. Any game picked up by a national TV network, such as ESPN or Fox, would be simulcast. Some games will be available for free on Apple TV, but most will be for subscribers to Apple TV+. There will be no blackouts.

The Fire’s exit from WGN isn’t as disappointing as that of the other teams in town, which had decadeslong relationships with the station. But it’s further evidence of the evolving sports-media landscape. The soccer club was upfront with the station about its potential departure, and the league essentially decided to cut the cord. More information, such as pricing, programming and broadcast teams, is forthcoming.

Here’s hoping Fire play-by-play voice Tyler Terens and analyst Tony Meola remain on the call. Terens is a terrific broadcaster. He has a great voice and strong presence, he commands the broadcast and he knows the game. Meola, a National Soccer Hall of Famer, provides knowledge and levity.

Remote patrol

  • Sox fans won’t have a local broadcast available for two of the three games this weekend in Houston. The game Friday night will air on Apple TV with Melanie Newman, Hannah Keyser, Chris Young and Brooke Fletcher on the call. The game Sunday night is on ESPN with Karl Ravech, David Cone, Eduardo Perez and Buster Olney.
  • ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” will feature Bob Guerrero, a longtime wrestling coach in the western suburbs. The show, which will air at 8 a.m. Saturday, tells the story of Guerrero’s miraculous recovery from COVID-19.

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