ESPN Becomes Exclusive Media Rights Holder for Fire


BRIDGEVIEW, IL—We wondered when, if at all, the Chicago Fire would announce their local TV deal. It turns out that there is none and fans will have to get ESPN+ to see 27 of the games this season. ESPN became the club’s exclusive media rights holder for the next three years and that ESPN+ will be home for 27 Fire matches this season in both English and Spanish.

“The partnership between ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, and our storied club is a powerful combination,” said Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodríguez. “Our fans will receive top-quality streaming and production, available anytime, anywhere and across any devices.”

Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming, ESPN added “This is an exciting agreement that highlights ESPN’s constant dedication to connecting fans with the sports, teams and leagues that they love through new and innovative ways. ESPN+ will offer Fire fans an amazing value, delivering great live, local coverage alongside thousands of other live sporting events.”

Fire fans will be able to access Fire matches for free on MLS LIVE until the official launch of ESPN+ this Spring. From that point, fans would have to pay $4.99/month to access ESPN’s direct-to-consumer subscription product.
The club has provided an FAQ page to address fans’ concerns regarding the new package. ESPN+ will be part of a revamped ESPN app and can be accessed through as well.
THOUGHTS:  The Fire have decided to cut the cord in order to stream all of their games online at $4.99/month upon the launch of ESPN+ which has the endorsement of Taylor Twellman. Personally, I remember when White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Sting games will moved to the old ONTV service in the early 1980s which later became SportsVision and has ultimately evolved into NBC Sports Chicago. Many people hated it at the beginning (especially White Sox fans), but ultimately got used to it—eventually the Cubs did in the early 2000s when they put the majority of their games on the now NBC Sports Chicago from WGN. We’ll see if other teams follow suit in regards to cutting the cord with linear broadcasting and move online for a majority of their games in the near future. Someone had to be first, and it looks like the Fire have raised their hand to go through with it.

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