IHSA Games Pulled From Free TV

The football and basketball state championships can only be seen on CSNChicago.

ROCKFORD - Thanksgiving weekend many of us will tune in to watch the IHSA State Football Championship games play out, But many of you might not be able to.  For the first time since the playoffs began in 1974 the games won't be shown on free, over-the-air television.

Watching those title games play out in Champaign or DeKalb is a tradition for high school football fanatics. Many sports fans have tuned in to our own Mynetwork TV in recent years to watch them. This year that won't happen.

The IHSA, the National Federation of High Schools and the company that produces the telecasts PlayOn!Sports have an agreement to show the games exclusively on ComcastSportsNet in Chicago. CSN reaches a lot of people who pay for cable or who have satellite subscriptions, but many people don't have cable or satellite. They can't afford them.

If you don't have cable or satellite that allows you to receive ComcastSportsNet you could still watch the championship games being streamed by the NFHS Network on the internet or on an app on your phone, but again that'll cost you a subscription fee.

"We brought the games to the viewer free and over-the-air by a broadcast signal," says Kelly Lattimer the General Manager of WTVO/MyNetwork TV in Rockford. Even though it's going to be on ComcastSportsNet and streamed digitally viewers are still going to have to pay to see the games that they want to watch.

Rockford's MyNetwork TV isn't the only television station that has been stiff-armed from bringing fans the games. Local TV affilates in Champaign and Peoria also have lost the games.

After several attempts on our part to schedule phone interviews with the IHSA went unanswered the IHSA emailed the following response to us.

IHSA Response:"It doesn't take an expert to see that the way we consume media is changing rapidly whether it be live streaming events or watching content on our phones that was once only available on our TVs. This ever changing landscape ultimately impacts our partners and their business models as well."

The email went on to say that the quality of IHSA broadcasts have grown and improved since PlayOn!Sports and Comcast SportsNet Chicago took over the production of the games five years ago. That might be true, but many fans still don't like the idea of having to pay for what until now was free.

"You shouldn't have to pay to watch your kid play football on TV. So yea, I think it should be free," says Forreston fan Bambi Hinkle.

(Jack Birkholz, Forreston fan) "We look forward to who's in the championship game no matter who's in it. I'm very disappointed," says another Forreston fan Jack Birkholz. (Forreston played in won the 1A football state championship game last fall.

About 20 percent of the homes in the Rockford viewing area don't currently have access to ComcastSportsNet Chicago, so this decision impact a lot of people. This change also applys to the IHSA boys and girls state basketball tournaments which will no longer be available on free TV.

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