Cubs and Sinclair team up to launch regional sports network in 2020


The Chicago Cubs are teaming with Sinclair Broadcast Group to launch a regional sports activities community in February 2020 that may grow to be the exclusive tv residence of the Cubs.

The Marquee Sports activities Network will air the complete regular season schedule, expanded pregame and postgame coverage, basic broadcasts from the archives and different native sports activities programming.

It marks the top of more than 70 years of over-the-air broadcasts for the Cubs, and the start of an formidable endeavor to promote cable and satellite providers on the value of the carrying the brand new regional network — no positive thing in an increasingly fragmented world of cable TV.

But if all goes based on plan and cable suppliers from Southwest Michigan to Iowa — Major League Baseball’s designated residence broadcast turf for the group — agree to carry the new community, viewers may have no selection however to observe native Cubs games on pay TV

“We’ve been taking a look at this for some time,” stated Crane Kenney, president of enterprise operations for the Cubs. “We expect the new community is going to provide our fans unprecedented access and a richer, deeper connection to the staff.”

Having their very own channel will enable the Cubs to have all of their programming in one place, versus splitting the video games between two broadcast stations — WGN-Ch.9 and WLS-Ch.7 — and sharing protection with the Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox on NBC Sports Chicago, formerly Comcast SportsNet, the regional sports network shaped in 2004.

NBC Sports Chicago announced a multiyear media rights deal last month with the Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox.

Change has been within the air for a number of years. The Cubs signed five-yr deals with WGN and WLS after the 2014 season, with the plan of launching the regional sports activities community starting in 2020. The group additionally ended its longtime nationwide platform on WGN America after the 2014 season.

Part of the Cubs’ motivation is the potential of incomes larger broadcast rights charges. “As those games come to cable, which is usually a extra profitable place for games to air, there’s an assumption that the workforce would benefit from that,” Kenney stated.

But within the five years because the Cubs planted the seed of the regional sports network, the pay-TV panorama has changed dramatically, with twine chopping and thin bundles squeezing the carriage fees cable corporations are prepared to pay for even sports activities, long probably the most helpful programming commodity.

That is the place the Cubs’ partnership with Maryland-based mostly Sinclair, the nation’s largest TV station owner, comes into play. Sinclair owns 191 TV stations and the Tennis Channel, which provides it leverage in negotiations with cable and satellite tv for pc suppliers resembling Comcast, DirecTV and Dish.

Since buying the Tennis Channel in 2016 for $350 million, for example, Sinclair has doubled its reach to 60 million houses.

“We now have robust relationships with cable corporations and satellite…



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