WGN Looking to Renegotiate Radio Deal with the Chicago Cubs

cubs broadcast boothCome next year, the Chicago Cubs are expected to exercise their right to open up their TV rights deal with WGN, which pays them a relatively modest sum for a little less than half of their games. In this era of exploding TV contracts, the Cubs believe they aren’t receiving market value, and no one really faults them for seeking out the best deal possible.

And, in that same vein, it appears that WGN will be returning the favor on the radio side. According to Ed Sherman (for the Tribune, a sister company with WGN), WGN will exercise their right re-open their radio deal with the Cubs, which expires after next season (like the TV deal).

The deal, which Sherman reports pays the Cubs around $10 million per year, was probably looking pretty sweet back in 2009, when it was initially signed. Ratings have plummeted along with the Cubs’ competitiveness, and I’d guess that radio also probably continues to lose “attention share” to other media.

The Cubs will have a modest amount of leverage in the renegotiations, as there are theoretical radio options on the market, but unless WGN has massively mis-read the market, it sounds like the Cubs will lose some money either way. In the end, the Cubs probably stick with WGN for radio, given the historical ties, if nothing else. The Cubs have been on WGN radio for almost 90 years, and it’s hard to imagine them being broadcast anywhere else. Still, no sense in not asking around, if WGN is going to force the issue.

That WGN is even looking to renegotiate the deal, though, underscores the fact that the team’s performance on the field over the past few years can have tangible negative effects on the future finances of the organization. Hopefully the TV negotiations are framed by “hope” much more than “past performance.” I imagine the Cubs would hate to lose $10s of millions of future dollars because the present product was weak (even if for understandable reasons).

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

168 responses to “WGN Looking to Renegotiate Radio Deal with the Chicago Cubs”

  1. Die hard

    Mark Cuban not guilty — now he can buy WGN and the Cubs after which you will see championship banners

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  3. Senor Cub

    This is fascinating. I don’t know if the Rickets are geniuses with this Theo plan but the business side is really suffering. Theo has done a great job of stocking up the farm system however the product at the MLB level has really suffered( I know that was part of the plan) however my question is who will “BLINK” first, Epstein or Rickets. Someone will want out of this deal.

    1. Brains

      Theo’s career has gone from a 10 to a 3, in 2 years. These things can be easily rectified by winning, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen for many, many years. How could it? We won’t sign free agents, build the team out of other teams designateds off the waiver wire, mess up trades that benefit other teams that weren’t even involved, trade away our half decent players…. what in the world is going on?

  4. Oliver

    What’s going on ?
    We have someone in charge that is not
    Playing with a full deck..with the players
    Traded, we at least were competitive.
    And fun to watch.

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  6. Michael

    If doing these with ground meat would you suggest pre-cooking meat or just use raw meat?

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