Marquee adding Bears’ official TV postgame show, weeknight show with Tom Waddle

Waddle, who co-hosts the afternoon show on ESPN 1000, will join host Taylor McGregor on “Bears Den,” a 30-minute show that will air on Thursdays during the season.

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Tom Waddle (left, with former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and ESPN 1000 partner Marc Silverman) is joining Marquee Sports Network’s Bears programming.

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Marquee Sports Network is adding to its Bears programming, becoming the home of the team’s official TV postgame show and launching another studio show with former Bears wide receiver Tom Waddle.

The 90-minute “Bears Postgame Live” will be hosted by Cole Wright. He’ll be joined by former Bears quarterback Jim Miller, who’s the TV analyst on Bears preseason games. Jeff Joniak, the team’s radio voice on ESPN 1000, will join from the site of the game. As the Bears’ official postgame show, Marquee can carry news conferences live.

Waddle, who co-hosts the afternoon show on ESPN 1000, will join host Taylor McGregor on “Bears Den,” a 30-minute show that will air on Thursdays during the season. It will debut next week at 5 p.m. The weekly, 30-minute “Bear Essentials” returns at 5 p.m. Tuesday with Wright, radio analyst Tom Thayer and Hall of Famer Dan Hampton.

“We wanted this programming for a while,” Marquee general manager Mike McCarthy said. “A lot of us have a history in other markets of doing live postgame shows around games that were not on our air. So we’ve been after it since we launched [in 2020]. The Bears knew of our interest in it. We jumped in on ‘Bears Essentials’ as a leap of faith.”

The postgame show will have at least a couple of conflicts with Cubs games this month, but McCarthy said the network would make sure viewers know where to find it. The first such conflict is Sept. 17. The executive producer for all of Marquee’s Bears programming is Maleek Ndile.

FOX 32 had carried the Bears’ postgame show. It will continue to host the pregame show “Bears Game Day Live” at 10:30 a.m. and “Bears Game Night Live” at 10:35 p.m. Sundays.

Cubs streaming

Marquee has been offering its direct-to-consumer service for more than five weeks, and McCarthy said the response has far exceeded the network’s expectations.

“The renewal rate after the first period of time was almost 100%,” he said. “People are excited about the team, and we provided a nice tech partner for Cubs fans to enjoy. But our core business is with our traditional cable and satellite partners. We have no disillusions that any of that goes away.”

Marquee is partnering with two dozen external companies on the DTC service, from distributors to infrastructure to connectivity. McCarthy said the only way to test some aspects of the functionality was to put it on the air. He said the network pulled it off without a major hitch.

“It’s complicated and layered,” McCarthy said. “We studied a lot of our colleagues in Boston and New York and at Bally. I think Cubs fans are pleased with the product.”

Other programming news

The network continues to build a relationship with 670 The Score that could lead to the sports-talk station appearing regularly on Marquee. The network has aired the last hour of “Hit & Run,” The Score’s Sunday baseball show hosted by Matt Spiegel. It also has produced the in-game gambling show “Hey Bettor, Bettor,” with Marquee’s Lance Brozdowski and The Score’s Spiegel and Danny Parkins, on Marquee Plus. McCarthy said he wouldn’t rule out anything regarding future programming.

Last week, Marquee announced an agreement with DePaul to broadcast select sports, including women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and softball. The first broadcast will be a men’s soccer game Oct. 4 against UIC at Wish Field in Lincoln Park. McCarthy said Marquee isn’t done exploring programming opportunities with other area schools.

To no one’s surprise, ratings are up on Marquee, thanks to the Cubs’ strong second half. Household impressions are up 34% to date compared to the 2022 season average. Plus, household ratings have increased 31% since the All-Star break.

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