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NBC Sports Chicago forms new partnership with 3 pro teams

NBCUniversal Media LLC's sports network serving Chicago has inked a multiyear deal with three of the city's professional sports teams.

NBC Sports Chicago (US) on Jan. 2 announced a multiyear pact with Major League Baseball’s White Sox, the National Basketball Association’s Bulls and the National Hockey League's Blackhawks.

The exclusive, local multiplatform agreement is set to begin Oct. 1 and will center around game coverage, starting with the 2019-2020 NBA and NHL seasons and the White Sox contests the following spring.

The deal, contingent upon approval of the three leagues, would form a new partnership with NBC Sports Chicago and comes as MLB's Chicago Cubs, which ended a World Series drought in 2016 dating to 1908, are set to launch their own regional sports network following the conclusion of baseball's 2019 season.

Under the 15-year deal expiring this fall, the four clubs and NBC Sports parent Comcast Corp. each hold a 20% stake in NBC Sports Chicago. It is unclear how the equity holdings will be structured under the new partnership. Comcast is the top cable operator in the Chicago metropolitan area.

NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago Plus, an overflow feed of NBC Sports Chicago, will be the regional home for all regular season games, pre-season and spring training for the three teams and the first round of post-season coverage for the Bulls and Blackhawks.

This new agreement also enables the NHL and NBA games to continue local streaming on and on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

MLB, following the expiration of pacts with U.S. regional sports networks after the 2018 season, does not have an agreement for local, in-market streaming of its franchises' ballgames.

A spokeswoman said NBC Sports Chicago will offer more contests with the three-team lineup than it has with the four teams on its roster.

Locally, Bulls and Blackhawks games air on NBC Sports Chicago and WGN-TV, while those outlets were also home to White Sox games during the 2018 campaign. Cubs games ran on those properties, as well as WLS-TV, last season.