Pat Foley prepares fans for Blackhawks game on ESPN+ as only he canJeff Agreston November 11, 2021 at 7:25 pm

In his final season with the Blackhawks, Pat Foley has called only five of the team’s 14 games and won’t be back on the mic until Nov. 28. | Sun-Times

The Hawks’ game Friday against the Coyotes won’t air on NBC Sports Chicago. Steaming service ESPN+ has exclusivity, and that doesn’t sit well with the team’s TV voice.

Blackhawks TV voice Pat Foley made his feelings clear about the broadcast of the Hawks’ game Friday, which is exclusive to the ESPN+ streaming service.

“So the Hawks play Arizona Friday here in the UC,” Foley said Tuesday on NBC Sports Chicago. “That game is gonna be on ESPN+. And what the fabulous ESPN folks have done is, if you wanna see that game, you gotta buy their app. That’s what ESPN+ means.

“So if you would like to see that game, you gotta buy the ESPN app in order to do so. Even if you have the NHL Center Ice package, you can’t get it.”

The game also will appear on Hulu, which is in the Disney/ESPN family. For likely the first time, a regular-season game involving one of Chicago’s Big Five teams is available only on a streaming service. (Unless you bought a ticket to watch two teams with a combined four victories in 27 games.)

But Foley had more on his mind than explaining the broadcast situation to fans. He had a point to make, and his words dripped with derision and sarcasm. “Fabulous ESPN folks?” Sure.

Never one to mince words – type “Alexander Karpovtsev Pat Foley” in a YouTube search and soak in the disdain – Foley probably doesn’t like ESPN taking games off TV and putting them online. He certainly isn’t alone, but that’s the direction sports broadcasting is heading.

Fans might be more upset that Foley, who’s in his last season with the Hawks, has called only five of the team’s 14 games and won’t be back on the mic until Nov. 28. At least this fan is – all due respect to Stephen Nelson, who will call three games on the Hawks’ upcoming trip to Western Canada.

As for the game Friday, heed Foley’s words: You won’t see the game on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s on ESPN+, which costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 for the year. You can cancel anytime.

But this arrangement is here to stay.

Remote patrol

Foley won’t like this, either. The NHL and ESPN bumped the Blues-Hawks game at the United Center from ABC’s Thanksgiving Showdown on Nov. 26, replacing it with Rangers-Bruins. The Hawks move from noon on national broadcast TV to 2:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and Hulu. You probably can guess why.
The Bulls make their ESPN debut Friday against the Warriors in San Francisco. The great Mike Breen will call the action with analyst Mark Jackson. The Bulls are scheduled for only four appearances on ESPN. That figures to change.
ESPN 1000 operations manager and executive producer Randy Merkin’s book, “Behind the Glass,” is scheduled to come out this weekend. It shares stories from his 25-plus years in sports radio, dating to his time at the old One-On-One Sports.

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