Jason Benetti and Steve Stone to return to White Sox TV booth for multi-year deals

White Sox fans have felt so much angst over the past three years that they might have feared the worst as TV announcers Jason Benetti and Steve Stone went out of contract less than a month before training spring.

The team put those fears to rest on Thursday by announcing that Benetti and Stone will return to the NBC Sports Chicago booth on multi-year contracts. Benetti enters his eighth season with the Sox and Stone his 16e. The odds of either leaving weren’t great, but the drawn-out process had fans worried that another organizational misstep would occur, particularly regarding Benetti.

The biggest part of his negotiation has been how many games he will miss for other commitments. Last year, Benetti was the main voice for Peacock’s group of Sunday games, which caused him to leave the Sox most weekends. It slipped out of his schedule when he joined Fox, for whom he called college football and basketball. He will add major league baseball this season.

Benetti’s last contract with the Sox did not specify the exact number of games he could miss. The Sox allowed him to call national games while he also worked for ESPN, but there was no set amount, only what was deemed reasonable. He left the contract up to interpretation.

His new contract is more specific on how many games he can miss. It’s a common problem for local advertisers doing national work, and the Sox have backed Benetti’s efforts to diversify his portfolio. It raises the profile of the team and the network, but both still want their guy on their games as much as possible.

Benetti will be with Fox multiple Saturdays, calling MLB regional games in the summer and college football in the fall. He added to his resume on Monday, making his debut as the host of “Throw it Down with Bill Walton,” an alternative NBA gaming TV show airing on NBA League Pass. In the past month, he called his first two NFL games on TV for Fox. Benetti is as versatile as it gets.

Stone doesn’t have Benetti’s conflicts, but he thinks he’s taking time off during the season, like he usually does.

Unlikely New Sox cable channel

NBCSCH’s rights agreement with the Sox, Blackhawks and Bulls expires in October 2024. Sox and Bulls president Jerry Reinsdorf has explored his options, including creating his own network with the Blackhawks, as the Sun-Times reported in June.

But industry insiders say Reinsdorf shouldn’t unplug the NBCSCH, certainly not in this media environment. Cable subscriptions are dwindling, and while the bundle remains profitable, it’s not as profitable as it used to be.

Despite layoffs on the digital side, The linear activity of NBCSCH is strong. It has quality shoulder game production and programming, and it has generated revenue in a tough time in the industry. Admittedly, apart from games, it offers few worthwhile content options, but viewers do not turn to the channel for those.

NBCSCH also has a strong cast. Not only is it part of Comcast under NBCUniversal, but it’s commercially available on four live TV streaming services: DirecTV Stream, fuboTV, Hulu, and YouTubeTV. The Cubs’ Marquee sports network has live-streaming deals with only DirecTV Stream and fuboTV.

The worst-case scenario for a regional sports network is playing out with Bally Sports’ RSNs, whose owner, Diamond Sports Group (a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group), is heading for bankruptcy court, according to Bloomberg. Marquee, which is jointly owned by the Cubs and Sinclair, is unaffected.

Say what you want about how Reinsdorf leads its teams. When he compares his broadcast options for them, he knows the best place is where they are.

Remote Patrol

Chip Caray, former voice of the TV Cubs would be back at his home in St. Louis to call Cardinals games for Bally Sports Midwest. Caray has called up the Braves for the past 18 seasons. He replaces Dan McLaughlin, whose 24-season run with the Cards ended in December when he resigned after his third drunk driving arrest.

Harry Caray, Chip’s grandfather, called up the Cardinals from 1945 to 1969, then the White Sox from 1971 to 1981 and the Cubs from 1982 to 1997.

Best wishes to Hawks radio announcer John Wiedeman. Her voice was out of order, so the team gave her this road trip to rest her. He is expected to return when the Hawks return from All-Star Break on Feb. 7. Joe Brand did a great job of replacing.

Amazon announced that “Air”, which chronicles how Nike signed Michael Jordan, will hit theaters on April 5 before arriving on Prime Video. Ben Affleck directed the film and plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Matt Damon is Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro.

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