Report: Cubs Officially Exercise Option to End TV Deal with WGN After 2014

kid-watching-tvAs has long been expected, the Chicago Cubs have formally exercised an option to end their television broadcast deal with WGN-TV following the 2014 season, per a Chicago Tribune report. And, since the report is coming from the Tribune, owned by the Tribune Company (as is WGN), I tend to give it full credence.

This has been known to be coming down the pipeline. In fact, it was so expected that we colloquially refer to the Cubs’ TV rights with WGN being “up” after 2014, even though it was technically the Cubs’ option to back-out at that time. The Cubs will now formally begin negotiating the broadcast rights for the games that were allocated to WGN (a little less than half), with the other games still being held under an agreement with CSN through 2019. Those negotiations will begin with an exclusive negotiation period for WGN.

According to the Tribune report, WGN now has 30 days to meet the Cubs’ revised valuation for their rights, otherwise the Cubs can take the rights to market and see what’s available. Presently, the Cubs receive just $20 million for the 70 odd games broadcast on WGN – quite a sweetheart arrangement when you consider that the Dodgers recently inked a deal that will net them some $300 million per 162 games.

The tentative expectation has been that the Cubs will seek a short-term relationship – with WGN or another party – that will pay the Cubs an increased fee for their WGN games from 2014 to 2019. Then, the full slate of Cubs games will be available for a deal. This approach would decrease the Cubs’ expected take for the WGN games from 2014 to 2019 (broadcasters prefer long-term contracts that lock in rates), but would likely increase their take after 2019 dramatically (because a broadcaster would much prefer to buy the full slate of games, rather than a mere portion).

Alternatively, the Cubs could negotiate with CSN (partly-owned by the Ricketts Family) to bring the full slate of games over after 2014, but that’s an option that hasn’t fully been sussed out yet.

Best near-term bet? The Cubs return to WGN at a slightly increased rate for the five-year period from 2015 to 2019. From there, all bets are off.

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

196 responses to “Report: Cubs Officially Exercise Option to End TV Deal with WGN After 2014”

  1. Casty


  2. MichiganGoat

    By increased rate what are you expecting 60-80M, 100M? Couldn’t they also sign a contract with someone that gives them these WGN games now and then all the games in 2019. If the dodgers got 300M I’d hope we ask for at least 100M for these WGN games… but then again the WGN games are the primetime super timeslots. It should be interesting to see where this goes.

  3. MightyBear

    I respectfully disagree Brett. I believe the entire slate of games goes to CSN from 2014-2019 and then the Cubs network is started in 2020 for both cable and online subscriptions.

    1. Kevin

      ” I believe the entire slate of games goes to CSN from 2014-2019 and then the Cubs network is started in 2020 for both cable and online subscriptions.”

      If this is true why announce anything about WGN?

    2. David

      Can CSN really handle a full slate of Cubs games while already handling the Sox, Blackhawks, and Bulls?

      1. Jon

        They have a CSN+ channel for local conflicts and in fact I think I’ve even seen a CSN++ channel before as well.

        1. YourResidentJag

          Well, since CSN is part of NBC Universal, they won’t necessarily need CSN++. They can just as easily put a select number of games on the local NBC Chicago station, where only Chicago residents will be able to see the games. This also would remove conflicts with Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox games all going on at the same time.

          1. Pat

            But NBC local isn’t going to want to pay $800,000 – $1,000,000 dollars for a game that is going to get less viewership than the network programming they are getting for free.

            1. YourResidentJag

              So about that scheduling conflict? Before you make that statement, why do they broadcast profitable Giants games then on NBC locally?

              1. Pat

                You’d have to provide more detail on the Giants’ situation. How much does NBC local pay for those games?

                1. YourResidentJag

                  Just don’t know on that. My point is that to say that they won’t be broadcast (at least a random small assortment) because it’s less profitable isn’t true. A profitable team is with the same setup potentially facing the Cubs in 2014.

                  1. YourResidentJag

                    Sorry, after ’14.

    3. JB88

      I actually have a slightly different take. My hope is that the Cubs and CSN come to an agreement that tears up the 2014-19 portion of the current contract, with the Cubs receiving somewhere around $250MM per season from CSN for a new longerterm deal.

      I’m terrified that the TV boom—much like the stadium naming rights boom—will collapse before 2019.

      1. Eric

        ^^ This

      2. YourResidentJag

        I’d agree if CSN didn’t have rights to broadcast virtually all the other sports in Chicago.

    4. YourResidentJag

      Also, like SF and Oakland do with CSN, you may see a handful of games only locally on NBC Chicago.

  4. MightyBear

    BTW, when is the broadcast article going to be posted or has it already been posted and I missed it? Thanks.

  5. Ben

    For those of us outside of the Chicago area, all that we can hope for is that some agreement is worked out with WGN for the near term. Otherwise, following the Cubs becomes as difficult as the Rockies or Marlins or some other team that the national media doesn’t care all that much about. The odd ESPN game here or there. *sigh*

    1. Drew


    2. Dan Foote

      I agree. I live in El Paso, TX and can only catch a few WGN games a year. When I’m lucky, they show a game on ESPN or some other channel (when they’re showing a “regional game”). We’re closer to Phoenix than we are to Dallas and we can’t even get half of the Dbacks games here. So I tend to track games with the MLG gameday. It’s not great, but at least it’s free and it works………..

    3. The Dude I do it and pipe it into my 60″ wall mount… sweet!

  6. Jon

    They have botched the renovation so far, so lets see how they botch this.

    1. JB88

      Hyperbole, thy name is Jon.

      1. Jon

        After two plus years of kicking off the renovation plans, we still have no planned groundbreaking. Because they are scared of a lawsuit. How is that anything but a disaster?

        1. mjhurdle

          well, by looking at the definition of disaster, i would say the ways that it differs are:
          - It didn’t happen suddenly
          - there was not great damage or harm done to any property or people
          - it is not a complete or total failure, seeing as how it is still planned to begin, just delayed

          Other than that, i guess disaster would be spot on.

          1. Jon

            A project (they are funding themselves) and critical to long term operations is delayed another year, and we don’t even have a projected start date yet. Not much positive you can find in that. Only the big time Kool Aid drinkers would argue that it hasn’t been a major dissapointment up to this point.

            1. mjhurdle

              Oh, so now it is a disappointment, not a disaster?
              My response was answering your question “How is that anything but a disaster?”

              1. Jon

                Major disappointments in life/business are often refereed to as disasters. i.e ‘That government project was a disaster’

                If you want to split hairs over actual definition, have at it Webster.

                1. mjhurdle

                  hmm, i typically use the word ‘disaster’ to describe, well, a disaster. A government project could be a disaster, if it was a failure.
                  The Cubs renovation could be a disaster if it ends up not happening, i.e. failing.
                  But right now, the Cubs renovation is not a disaster.

                  1. Jon

                    The project so far, has been a disaster. Deadlines have been missed, season(s) lost. Even if the project is completed, that doesn’t change the fact all the opportunity costs lost at the start of it.

                    1. mjhurdle

                      again, i invite you to look at the definition of disaster, unless this is another case of you using disaster to describe disappointment.
                      It has been a disappointment, but not a disaster…yet

            2. Scotti

              “They have botched the renovation so far, so lets see how they botch this.”

              I take issue with the notion that “they” (the Cubs) have “botched” this. It takes two to Tango and, in this case, we’re talking Discotheque. There are numerous parties here (and even non-parties who are already filing suit based on “constitutional” grounds). The threat of a lawsuit from the rooftops shutting down construction is very real–you’re talking about Chicago judges here. The term “botched” simply does not apply. This is an extremely complicated issue. I don’t believe that it SHOULD be complicated whatsoever but this is Chicago politics.

              1. Jon

                First off lets start off with the issue of rooftop blockage

                They need these signs/advertising because they aren’t getting any public money. Early in to this process Daddy Ricketts can’t keep his poltical motivations to himself, pissing off Rahm and effectively killing any public financing. That, combined with their refusal to use any relocation leverage puts 100% of this financing on them.

                They still move forward with their “stadium/revenue plan” that is to eventually fund their “baseball plan”. The plan is to put up signs, to get extra revenue, that will pay for renovations. They have full launch and rollout assuming this will go seamlessly. here were, are with still no launch date. This is a fucking disaster, this is botched, this is a mess, whatever superlatives you want to use.

                1. Scotti

                  “Early in to this process Daddy Ricketts can’t keep his poltical motivations to himself, pissing off Rahm and effectively killing any public financing.”

                  Uh, wrong. An outside group proposed a line of attack to Ricketts’ PAC. The PAC (Ricketts) rejected that proposal. What sort of proposals do you think were laid at the feet of all the other PACs (both democrat and republican)? Is there ANY reason to suggest that someone should blame a PAC for someone else’s pitch to them? That would be monumentally stupid. Emanuel is a lot of things but he isn’t monumentally stupid.

                  Emanuel simply didn’t have the political clout to put ANY public funding into this (he has said he would put zero funding into this from the onset). The “Someone pitched an idea to a PAC and that pissed off Rahm” was just an excuse (and a bizarre one at that) for Rahm not to admit his weakness (and given how badly he wants this done that proves how weak he really is). No one on the council is against putting money into the Bulls’ facility or the DePaul facility so they get money. That ain’t so with the Cubs.

                  Regardless, the video board and ads were always going to be a part of this. $100-150M in public funding wouldn’t have come anywhere near what is required.

                  This would be “botched” by the Cubs if this were easy. This isn’t easy. You have a new, weak mayor and the city council controls Chicago. Tunney has allied with the rest of the council to stop/slow this any way he can (delay = money in his pocket–he owns Ann Sathers just a few blocks from Wrigley and this rebuild means competition for his restaurant). The Ricketts have told all parties what they need to move forward (and, ultimately, stay). This aint simple, regardless of how you Monday morning QB it.

        2. JB88

          And thank you for once again proving my point …

          1. Jon

            oh, and JB88 got fuck yourself with your smug little comments. If you think my reasoning is incorrect, actually provide reasons why, as hurdle is doing.

          2. JB88

            I haven’t attacked your reasoning. I’ve attacked your choice of words, which, repeatedly, deal with minutiae with a sledge hammer rather than a scalpel. Going to the “f” bomb one post in just proves the caliber of person and mind we’re working with here.

            To help the process along, I accused you of hyperbole, to which you responded calling the renovation process a “disaster” and then telling me to “go[] f myself.” Very measured responses, for sure.

        3. Kyle

          It’s way worse than that. Ricketts bought the team knowing that the field would need extensive renovations and expansion and that his entire plan to pay for it was through convincing the state and city to do it. He then found out just how bad he was at navigating those political waters, and he probably never had a shot at the money anyway.

          So now his plan B is to cannibalize the revenue that he was counting on from the expansions to pay for both the expansions themselves and the renovations in an ongoing manner. He is again ineptly maneuvering through the political and legal realities that face such a plan.

          Getting Wrigley renovated and expanded was allegedly one of his top priorities from the day he took over the team, and four years later we’ve barely had any forward momentum at all.

          1. mjhurdle

            “his entire plan to pay for it was through convincing the state and city to do it. He then found out just how bad he was at navigating those political waters, and he probably never had a shot at the money anyway.”

            Do you have a source to back up this statement? Just wondering, because it seems to be a standard opening move in any stadium work for most sports franchise is to ask for the moon from the city/state, then reach a more realistic agreement.
            So are you basing this simply on the fact that they asked for public money and were told no?

            1. MightyBear

              They are the only sports franchise in the country who was told no and it stuck other than those who moved their teams ie Houston Oilers now Tennessee Titans.

              1. mjhurdle

                well, currently here in STL a similar situation is happening with the Rams.
                The dome needs upgrades (badly) and the cost is around $800 million if i remember correctly. The Rams asked the city to pay for around 700 or so of that, and have been told no, the city doesn’t want to pay for more than 100 or so. both sides are standing firm.
                I guess my problem with Kyle’s theory is that you have to assume the Cubs business operation is extremely bad at what they do. No sports franchise would just assume that a city would pay hundreds of millions on their stadium these days, and assume so strongly that they don’t even have a contingency plan.
                I think, because we don’t know very much about the process as it has happened, a lot of individual bias is creeping in, myself included.
                I tend to believe that the Cubs knew they needed renovations, and thought they would take a swing at public funding, even knowing it was a long shot due to Chicago politics and their lack of leverage (cant really leave Wrigley).
                When that didn’t happen, they used that to build an argument that “well, we will do it all ourselves, but we want a, b, c”.
                Now that is taking a long time, which happens once politicians and neighborhoods are involved.
                I don’t see a lot they could have done differently (again, personal bias). I think that asking money from the city was probably just as much of a setup for their asking for concessions later as anything else.
                a ‘See, we will pay for it ourselves and you can look good not spending public money, but help us with the rooftops when we need it”.
                Just how i see it, but i could be wrong. That why i wanted to know if Kyle had seen/read something that I hadn’t

                1. Kyle

                  “I guess my problem with Kyle’s theory is that you have to assume the Cubs business operation is extremely bad at what they do.”

                  Well, four years after the new ownership took over, attendance has cratered, the radio deal is being negotiated downward, the team has been a black pit, and we even have front office personnel admitting that revenue hasn’t been what they thought it would be.

                  Trying to deny that there’s a good chance that the Cubs’ ownership is really bad at what they do is a pretty big uphill battle at this point.

                  1. mjhurdle

                    I would cite the personal bias mentioned earlier here.
                    All the things you cite are centered around one thing, the talent on the field.
                    Attendance is down because the team is bad. Revenue is down because the team is bad. Radio is down because the team is bad.
                    So, what you are left with is not a judgement on the business acumen of the organization, but rather personal beliefs on whether it was better/necessary/good to trade off current assets for future prospects in an attempt to build depth faster, or whether the same results could have been obtained while still fielding a competitive team.
                    This too could be narrowed down to each person’s perception of the “plan” and whether the Cubs entered each year with the idea of tanking, or whether they did what they could, evaluated mid-season, and decided being 70-92 while trading for prospects was more beneficial than finishing 81-81 with no extra prospects.

                    There really is no right answer. I cannot PROVE that the current process is the best one, just as someone else cannot PROVE that keeping talent (Fledman, Maholm, Dempster, Soriano, etc) would have been a better method.

                    1. Kyle

                      That’s crazybuckets. The fact that every facet of a professional baseball team somehow relates to baseball is not an excuse to dismiss any criticisms as baseball related. The business side has been floundering since Ricketts took over.

            2. YourResidentJag

              Kyle premise is legit.

            3. Kyle

              Well, when someone says something is their biggest priority, and they take a year or two pursuing a key avenue to try to make it a reality, it’s reasonable to infer that it was their plan to do so.

          2. MightyBear

            I agree with this.

            1. MightyBear

              I meant I agree with Kyle.

              1. Jono

                “I agree with Kyle”

                Reading this ruined my day. Such words shall never be written in a non-sarcastic way ;)

          3. Spiders

            This assumes that they actually intended to invest in the ballpark. They haven’t invested in the team or the ballpark. I think I see a pattern.

          4. Spiders

            Can the MLB compel an owner to sell the team? Or are we just doomed to have this clown make the Tribune company look good?

  7. David

    Waiting until 2019 is a scary proposition because the TV bubble is probably close to bursting already.

    Current Cubs TV ratings also have me pretty pessimistic about what they can hope to command right now (especially in a shorter term deal where the awfulness of the current team comes into play even more).

    This sucks.

  8. DReese

    I hope they will keep WGN in some capacity in the future

  9. Blackhawks1963

    The Cubs need to secure a multi-billion dollar TV deal like the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels. That is surely the master plan of the Ricketts. It’s got to be in order to unlock the revenue potential of this club. Wrigley Field and our TV deal have kept this franchise in the stone ages versus the big market clubs. It’s our time to get a slice of the pie to support building a perennially winning ballclub and ascend to the rank of an elite big market club.

    Get a TV deal DONE ! Is it going to cost the fans more? Hell yes. Is it going to be harder to tap into cheap Cub game broadcasts if you don’t live in Chicagoland? Hell yes. But that is the pricetag that goes along with the ride.

  10. roz

    Can someone explain how negotiating with CSN works when Ricketts in fact owns a portion of CSN? I’m envisioning baseball-Ricketts demanding some stupidly high price, and then CSN-Ricketts saying something like “Oh yea, I think that would be a great deal for us, let’s pay the Cubs that much!”

    1. Patrick W.

      Well he only owns 20%.

    2. cms0101

      The cost of the CSN percentage was part of the Cubs purchase. The Cubs are his concern here. CSN was a throw-in, of sorts. It’s up to the management of CSN to obtain ad revenues. That requires them to put the best programming on air that they can. Cubs baseball is part of that programming. In 2019 when the contract expires, he’ll have some interest in giving CSN a portion of games. But I would guess they’ll explore a Cubs Network, as well as what WGN would be willing to offer for a portion as well. Maybe the Cubs Network becomes part of CSN. Who knows. I just know that CSN won’t be a conflict for Ricketts in the negotiations.

  11. Moises Canchola

    Sadly I feel that the Cubs will lose a lot of Fans all across the nation because WGN is nationally televised. Obviously die hard fans will stick around and buy the Cubs tv or Cubs channel but others will not. Which means future generations of fans wont get to see the Cubs on tv, so there might be less tourist going to the stadium which is what is keeping the attendance up right now cuz back to back horrible seasons isnt good for baseball. I just hope Ricketts is smart and makes it free and part of the basic setup for all cable stations in the USA.

    1. Ben

      As I understand it, if you don’t live near Chicago, you wouldnt have the option of getting a “Cubs Channel” no matter what. I don’t believe that I could subscribe to the YES Network to watch all Yankees games living in Virginia, for example.

      1. Scott

        My dad is a Yankees fan and I was researching for him, and I know for a fact that the YES Network is part of the sports pack available through DirectTV.. Perhaps (hopefully) whatever Network the Cubs games are on, would also be available through some such package. Fingers crossed.

    2. Voice of Reason


      I agree with you! The Cubs were built, in part, by WGN TV and Harry Caray. It certainly wasn’t because they were winning World Series!

      That said, those who are baseball junkies across the nation will buy the MLB package and get Cubs games. What the Cubs will lose out on, are those casual fans who watched the Cubs across the country because there was nothing else on in the middle of the afternoon. Those casual fans made their way to Wrigley Field!

      The Ricketts family should proceed with caution on this! WGN TV is a marketing tool that helped build the franchise base of fans!

      1. Voice of Reason

        That said, the Cubs deserve more money from WGN TV than what they are receiving!

        I’m not debating that fact. That deal was signed when the Cubs and WGN TV were owned by the same company.

  12. CubsFanSaxMan

    I tend to agree with the Mighty Bear, that being, that CSN takes over all of the games. I would hate to see that, as I (and many others) would not be able to see the Cubs any longer. However, if I cancel the dreaded cable (which I continue to think about) money saved could go towards the MLB network on the computer. Would have to look into the blackout issue however.

    As a side note to Brett. You mentioned one time about “cutting the cable.” Have you done this? Has it worked out for you? Just asking as I often think about this as well.

  13. cubfanincardinalland

    50 million more a year in revenue ain’t to shabby. Tanaka?

  14. JakeTheSnake

    I for one and I’m probably in the minority here, hate this news. I am an “out of market” Cubs fan and rely on WGN’s national broadcasts to catch what few games I can. Not good…

    1. Blackhawks1963

      Progress marches forward. While I feel your pain, the fact is the Cubs are at a competitive disadvantage versus other major market teams because of the archaic TV deal they’ve had in place for too long. Its the same thing with Wrigley….we operate in a non-competitive ballpark that doesn’t provide the marketing and advertising revenue sources of other ballparks around the league (e.g., Jumbotron, ribbon boards, naming rights, etc.).

      Romanticism is one thing. Having to pay a lot more to watch the Cubs or attend games at Wrigley is another thing. But progress can’t be impeded. Not if we want to shed this fucking Luvable Loser label that has been affixed to this franchise for decades.

      I want to be the Yankees and Dodgers. I want money gushing into this franchise on all levels.

      1. Scott

        I agree.

    2. ETS

      If you are out of market,just subscribe to mlb ticket.

      1. hansman

        Unless you live in Des Moines. Then you get about 14 games a year.

        1. YourResidentJag

          Really? Then how come with the Directv sports package, I can get the full slate of Cubs/White Sox, plus Twins, Cards, Brewers, and Royals games. I live in Eastern Iowa. Weird.

          Yes, you have to purchase the sports pack….so maybe that’s the difference???

          1. MichiganGoat

            because the Direct TV package is much more expensive than the subscription. Luckily I’m only blackout of Tigers games but Iowa is a blackout blackhole. BLACKOUT ALL THE GAMES!

            1. YourResidentJag

              Well, I know it’s expensive, but if you’re a big MLB fan (as I am), you just have to assess your priorities. But yes, MLB’s restrictions are archaic.

        2. ETS

          haha, living in iowa sucks. :(

          1. dumbledoresacubsfan

            I’m starting to rethink applying to graduate school at Iowa State….

            1. YourResidentJag

              Go to U of Iowa instead. ISU is in no-mans-land.

              1. dumbledoresacubsfan

                U of Iowa doesn’t have my discipline–so it’s a no-go regardless.

                1. ssckelley

                  You do not want to be a clown. :D

                  1. Fishin Phil

                    Hey Now!

                    Don’t listen to them! Ames is lovely this time…..

                    Aw crap, I really thought I could do that with a straight face.

                    1. DarthHater

                      And his face is made of wood…

                    2. MichiganGoat

                      And that saying something when a dirty wooden puppet can’t keep a straight face.

                    3. dumbledoresacubsfan

                      I’ve never been (which is probably really bad since I’ve already applied), but it doesn’t look that bad from the pictures I’ve seen of it……

                      Is it really that bad? It’s, like, my second choice of school behind the University of Washington….

                    4. MichiganGoat

                      What’s even worse is when a goat and a sith lord have the same thought.

                    5. DarthHater

                      Evil beings think alike…

                2. YourResidentJag

                  Go to University of Washington…it’s rains I’m sure a lot…but it is Seattle.

                  1. Fishin Phil

                    Don’t go by me, it was many decades ago. I remember it was a good place to drink.

                  2. dw8

                    Went to udub for grad school. Campus is great. Nice part of town. Rest of the city is pretty accessible. Summers in the NW are the best around.

    3. YourResidentJag

      Yeah, I does stink. But you may want to get that subscription to MLB TV.

      1. YourResidentJag


        1. DarthHater

          Nah, you had it right the first time. ;-)

          1. YourResidentJag

            Well, you can’t always come up smelling like roses…so…

  15. ETS

    So what’s the deal with the 9 (ish?) WCIU games? Is that up soon?

    1. Blackhawks1963

      WGN produces the WCIU games. WCIU is simply an extension of the WGN broadcast rights in this regard.

      1. ETS

        Okay, thanks. I have never understood how this works.

  16. Jamie

    Concur. I grew up in the Chicagoland area, and last lived there in 1985. Cubs are my first love, but my ability to view them has dwindled over the years already. The excitement in recent years of seeing that “MLB Baseball” is playing on WGN has been replaced with guarded optimism (for knowing that half of those games were the damned White Sox). It’s tough to catch any Cubs games in eastern Virginia.
    Side note: I’m very grateful to have found this site, though. Thanks, Brett, for keeping me more connected than WGN ever could, anyway.

  17. JoeyCollins

    I live outside the Chicago area now and love being able to see games on WGN, but i don’t think a new contract with WGN will be the best thing for the Cubs. The idea i’ve heard floating around i like best would involve CSN breaking into two seperate full time channels. One being a Cubs/Blackhawks channel, and the other Bulls White Sox. Having a network with two teams with little to no overlap in seasons would make both channels viable year round and bring in a lot more money. Considering NBC and the three owners (Ricketts, Wirtz, Reinsdorf) already own CSN and they often have to use a CSN+ it should be easy to transition to two full channels splitting the teams.

  18. Die hard

    Only old farts like me watch games on TV any more- cancel once and for all

    1. dumbledoresacubsfan

      I watch games on TV…….

      1. Die hard

        I would buy a limited package for only innings 1,2 8 and 9 cause I nap during the others

        1. MichiganGoat

          well that would explain your comments

          1. Die hard

            Hey I called Bud Black or progeny

  19. N.J. Riv

    Playoff games are nationaly broadcasted anyways.

    1. beerhelps

      That’s the right attitude! I’m with ya man.

      1. YourResidentJag
    2. Patrick W.

      Not on network TV. I didn’t get to see any of the NL playoffs because I don’t subscribe to cable.

  20. Fishin Phil

    Grew up watching the games on WGN-TV and listening on WGN radio. I have a sentimental attachment. Having said that, if we can field a more competitive team, do whatever you have to do!

    1. Derek Smalls

      I suppose you lit a candle when Frazier Thomas croaked and the day they cancelled Bozo’s Circus,huh. This isn’t 1962 anymore. Time for the Cubs to hop on the gravy train of a big fat broadcast deal like those fellers on the east coast and California have. This is Chicago, not Ottumwa Iowa.

      1. Fishin Phil

        Never cared for Frazier Thomas, always thought he was a condescending ass. Perhaps you missed the last sentence of my post:

        “Having said that, if we can field a more competitive team, do whatever you have to do!”

        1. Stinky Pete

          I was on the Bozo Show in 1982. Just sayin’…

      2. Stinky Pete

        No we’re not going to do F’ing Stonehenge!!!!

    2. MichiganGoat

      Yes if it wasn’t for WGN some preppy Ohio kid would never have become a Cub addict and take that addiction to create this home we all visit. In the 80/90′s it was TBS or WGN if you wanted to see regular games and the fanbase of the Cubs grew. But now people have access to, constant highlights, apps, sports packages, and social media to watch/listen/interact with games and the uniqueness of WGN is no longer available to any team. What I hope doesn’t happen is that we let the “back in my day” sentimental voices ignore what is a necessary and smart business decision. I will miss WGN but winning a world series will fix that real fast.

      1. YourResidentJag

        I wonder what they’ll decide on the radio side of things?

  21. Bill

    The cubs need to sign a multi billion dollar deal now like the dodgers,angels and rangers anything less would be a failure.

  22. BigSmokeJ

    The rumblings I’ve heard, ( a close friend works in the sports department) is that NBC which owns CSN will bid for the remaining games. Their plan is to have most games on CSN, but to also have some day games on local channel 5, but hears the kicker.
    They want to also have both day and night games on their NBCSN channel.
    The one thing that could hold that up would be the approval of MLB to allow those games to be shown nationally. Right now that is were the hold up is.

    1. WGNstatic

      That would be pretty cool. Sad to see the Channel 9 relationship end, but that is just sentimental mushiness.

      That said, why would MLB have a problem with the games being broadcast nationally? The WGN games (most at least) are broadcast nationally already.

    2. YourResidentJag

      Well, that is a way for NBC Sports Network to REALLY up its viewership.


    The Rickets family should forgo their ownership in CSN and start CBN (Cubs Broadcasting Network) immediately. I’d love to watch old games in the winter and talk shows when I get home from work.

    I personally don’t see the TV bubble being mentioned. Live sports is now a requirement for cable packages. As long as 3/4 of American households continue to pay $80 and up a month, there is no bubble.

  24. Jono

    Is the me, or did the tribune company manage the cubs as poorly as possible? Wrigley landmark status, rooftop deal, staggering tv deal durations, not investing in the farm system, letting Wrigley fall apart, getting tied up in bad contracts to sell the team. Maybe letting the last president (id misspell his name if I tried writing it) leave for the blackhawks. The tribune company was a disaster. Whether ricketts is good or bad, he’s still better than the tribune company.

    1. Jono

      *Is it me,……*

    2. WGNstatic

      Not to defend TribCo, but it is hard to criticize their contracts with WGN, seeing as they own them.

      For everyone begging for the Cubs to start their own broadcasting network to keep the profits in house… That is what WGN was for years. Whether or not TribCo kept those profits allocated to the Cubs is of course a separate question.

      1. Jono

        reread my criticism of the tv deals, it wasn’t about how much money they were worth

    3. YourResidentJag

      They certainly weren’t the best at it. From a marketing side of the MLB team exclusively, though, they were very smart with WGN broadcasts.

    4. Kyle

      There’s a bit of 20/20 hindsight in there. Nobody knew at the time that TV deals were going to hit a massive bubble halfway through our deals.

      1. Jono

        I very much disliked the tribune ownership when they owned the team for many of those reasons. The only thing that we didn’t know was the dodgers deal. But yeah, we’re not psychics.

  25. Dustin Smith

    I sure hope the new MLB commish addresses the archaic blackout situation. MLB has a product people want and are willing to pay a reasonable amount for. That’s why blacking out games for teams 300+ miles away is absolutely insane. 50 or maybe 100 miles max I could maybe see. They are losing SO much money from folks that are in that ~50-~300 (like me and others above) blackhole that would otherwise subscribe to Extra Innings. If games end up on WGN, CSN, or another network I already have in my package better yet.

    I would love for MLB to show me the fan that lives 300 miles from Wrigley that would otherwise drive to all the home games (or even 5+ games a season) if not for the blackouts lol…

    1. WGNstatic

      Not to mention that more folks are watching games on commutes etc. on their various mobile devices. Yeah, the blackouts are poorly conceived. Certainly something needs to be done to protect the broadcast. Perhaps you could pay an extra blackout buster fee?

      While I’m on the topic of, it shocks me how poor the advertisements are. They are often just the same ad on repeat or some dopey ad for MLB. Why not have the eyes following the games on an ipad get the same commercials (or a set of national commercials, whatever) as TV viewers? This seems like an obvious missed opportunity for $$.

      1. MichiganGoat

        I love how during commercials it always says “Commerical Break, Game will resume shortly” or something like that. Its great to watch a game commercial free, but I’m surprised MLB hasn’t found a way to maximize revenue there, on the radio broadcast they just broadcast the local feed with commercials and all. Its a huge revenue stream they haven’t exploited.

    2. YourResidentJag

      Well, it’s inextricably tied to MLB being what it is. Not a national event sport like NFL football but highly regionalized. Doesn’t help fans like us, though, where MLB ranks at the top.

    3. MichiganGoat

      Yeah it makes no sense, I understand when your local cable provider has a teams broadcast. For example here in Grand Rapids (2+ hours from Detroit) we have the CSN channel for Tigers game and I’m blocked out of Tigers games, fine that makes sense, and I am not blacked out of Cubs games because I don’t get CSN Chicago- again that makes sense. But areas like Iowa which are blocked out of like 6 teams or Indianapolis which has CSN/Fox Cincinnati are block out of both the Reds and Cubs games. Its a very complex and stupid system and I’ve never seen it explained logically. Chicago is only 20 miles further away than Detroit and I’m closer to the Cubs than many places that are in blackout. Just a ridiculous system.

    4. Kyle

      Hi, I’m a regional cable network. I want to sell myself to cable providers all over the region, sometimes hundreds of miles away, and I want to use your baseball team to help me do that. I’m willing to pay you a lot of money.

      What’s that? You want to retain the right to sell that same baseball team to people in the region via the internet? Well, that might not work for me and would interfere with my desire to give you a lot of money.

      Blackouts make perfect sense. They may be frustrating, but they aren’t irrational.

      1. Patrick W.

        I can watch Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football on my Verizon smart phone for $5 per month, even though I don’t subscribe to cable to get NFL network or ESPN. There are no black outs (except when the Seahawks are on, in which case the cable broadcast is mirrored on a local station). The NFL makes sure that if you want to pay for it, you can see every single out of market football game, and by extension every single commercial played on every single broadcast. If the Cubs are playing the Brewers on a Saturday afternoon, I can only watch the Yankees or Red Sox or whatever AL team is playing on Fox in Seattle. That’s not only frustrating but it is also irrational. It is done to ensure Fox gets all the viewers of baseball on Saturday and it serves to ensure that baseball has a much smaller audience than it could on Saturday.

        Beyond that, I watch almost all of the Cubs game I watch in any given year via MLB At Bat. If the blackouts are designed to protect regional sports networks from losing money, it’s a pretty simple fix: play the commercials from the regional sports network’s broadcast on the internet broadcast. Right now MLB has little to no advertising between innings, with a potentially national base of viewers, said regional sports network could expand it’s advertising pool greatly.

        1. Kyle

          MLB had traditionally been better than the NFL at monetizing their online content, so I’m not sure saying “The NFL does it X way” proves that MLB is doing it wrong.

          The NFL gets almost all of their money from national TV deals. MLB gets it from regional providers. They aren’t comparable.

  26. Cizzle

    I hate Comcast.

    1. YourResidentJag

      Me too. The quality of sports broadcasting/analysis is poor.

  27. LWeb23

    Considering I haven’t seen talk of it before, it’s probably not plausible… But out of curiosity, anyone have a clue what it would take to buy out of the CSN deal through 2019?

  28. caryatid62

    This ownership group has really only had two major successes: hiring Epstein and getting a new Spring Training facility. In virtually every other area on which they can currently be judged, they have failed pretty spectacularly thus far. This is not to say that they can’t turn it around, but at this moment, they seem to be quite inept.

    1. Voice of Reason


      Please share the areas in which you feel ownership has shown to be inept.

      1. caryatid62

        1. The Wrigley Field Renovation Process; specifically, an inability to understand and navigate the political process (however unseemly) necessary to accomplish their goals. After losing out on public money, they have been unable to exercise any clout whatsoever in a fight against a group of rooftop owners-not exactly a “fortune 500″ battle.

        2. The inability to provide funds to Epstein and co. in an attempt to get ahead of the market on international free agents from Japan and Cuba. While this is merely my opinion, my sense is that Epstein, with a higher budget, would have made a bigger splash in this area. If not, it’s on him (but I don’t think it was him).

        This doesn’t even mention their willingness to agree to the debt structured purchase in the first place (one that is still under investigation by the IRS), when it was clear that they had significant leverage in their bid.

        As it stands, they’ve now backed the organization into a corner where revenues will be depressed due to poor ticket sales, profits have been siphoned off from payroll to pay down the debt incurred when the purchase was agreed to, renovations that might increase revenue are at least another year away, the players on the MLB roster counted on to be “the core” are (at the moment) not looking like they will be superstars, and thus they are expected fans to put their faith and dollars into minor league players that aren’t necessarily sure things, without the guarantee that they’ll even be able to supplement those players with quality free agents 2-3 years from now (if the revenue from the new facilities doesn’t come in at the appropriate amount).

        While I’m sure some can explain away any/all of these problems (with the hopefulness and optimism that comes with being a Cubs fan), I have a hard time giving this ownership group a passing grade at this moment.

        1. Voice of Reason

          1. The Rickett’s family understands the political process and they knew this would take time. Perhaps not this long, but there are a lot of entities involved here. They have played their cards well. They are not trying to look like Goliath in the battle with the roof top owners and they are doing well. They are also keeping tight lipped about dealing with the city. They know there are politics involved. The Cubs are all ready to go with the renovations, it’s not their fault that there is an extensive amount of politicking going on in the third largest city in the country.

          2. How can you even mention that they are failing in the international free agent market? They OVERSPENT on the amount of money they were allotted by MLB. They have also improved their overseas scouting! This has been a big positive for this ownership group!

          The rest of your comments don’t make sense? How do you know revenues will be depressed? There is much more involved than just ticket sales that drives revenue?

          Overall, the team is in a total rebuild stage so going after free agents right now isn’t even in the cards. You do understand what a rebuild is for a baseball team?

          1. caryatid62

            1. You have no idea what the Ricketts know and what they don’t. They haven’t gotten it done. Anything else is excuse-making.

            2. You’re confusing the IFA allotment for all other countries with the Japan and Cuba IFAs (I made that distinction in my post). Furthermore, the amount they overspend was less than $3 million, not exactly some crazy amount.

            I know how much we’d all like for them to do well and be successful, your post is nothing more than Polyannaism.

            1. caryatid62

              Finally, to be clear: because someone criticizes the current state of the Cubs, it doesn’t mean they “don’t understand rebuilding” or “don’t understand THE PLAN”. It just means they feel like it has been executed, in some ways, very poorly. The condescension isn’t necessary.

              1. SH

                What’s growing increasingly absurd is that “the plan” is something special and creative. Tank-for-future-success is really not mindblowing, original, or in any way unique to this group of individuals.

                All the signs say we’re likely to, for the third year in a row, win 70 or less ballgames (this comes after two years of winning just a tick above 70 ballgames). Five years of sustained failure, when failure is tied to high draft picks, had better lead to a good farm system. We don’t need a top-tier brain trust to accomplish that.

                1. YourResidentJag

                  Exactly. Just look at the Twins. They’re essentially doing the same thing. What worries me are the additional revenue streams for high WAR FAs Theo argues he still needs. The Twins really did do this practice in the 2000s. While it led to repeated playoffs, in fact similar to higher payrolls teams like the Yankees, where were the WS appearances? The Twins appeared in the playoffs six times in the 2000s: 2002-2004, 2006, 2009-2010. One time they appeared in the ALCS and it was a decisive defeat 4-1.

                  1. YourResidentJag

                    *did not

                  2. terencemann

                    It doesn’t matter if you you look at the Twins, the Rays, the Red Sox, the Phillies or even the Dodgers, most teams start from home grown talent in order to build a team with a chance for sustained success. The Dodgers, for example, couldn’t have swung the trades that brought Hanley Ramirez, Ricky Nolasco, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonalez to the Red Sox last season if they didn’t have some prospects the other teams wanted in return. The reason they were setup for succes, though, was because they had a Cy Young winner in their rotation, a recent MVP in centerfield, and a couple other solid pieces already.

                    The Yankees spent all the money in the world to try to compete in the 80′s and early 90′s but it wasn’t until Steinbrenner was out of the picture and Gene Michaels and Brian Cashman were able to build a core of young players that the Yankees were able to return to the glory days of the franchise. Everything that has happened over the last decade starts with those four core players who came up through their organization.

                    The success of the current plan isn’t determined by how quickly the team turns things around (although we all would like to see it happen sooner rather than later), it’s about how long they can make the success last.

                    1. terencemann

                      Ugh, meant to say “to the Dodgers” not “Red Sox”

                    2. SH

                      This is the best argument I’ve yet read, nice work. Especially like the last paragraph. Still don’t think that it needs to be an all or nothing proposition to achieve what many of those teams have achieved (see: the facts of MLB production during the time these teams were “building their core”), though.

                    3. YourResidentJag

                      The point really isn’t about the core, though. That’s understood. The point is augmenting the core so you don’t end up in a situation once again where you’re going through a long protracted rebuild, much like the Twins are now. So, you’re ok with the one and done playoff scenarios of the Twins?

              2. BT

                You can still not understand THE PLAN if your argument boils down to not spending 43 million on an unscouted Yasiel Puig or bid 52 million for the rights to Yu Darvish and double everyone but the Rangers in a blind bid. Both of those are comic examples of Monday morning QBing since, AGAIN, the Puig contract was universally panned when announced, and the Cubs reportedly came in second in the blind bid, and Japanese pitchers hadn’t exactly torn it up, pre-Darvish. If those 2 aren’t who you are talking about in your vague “inability to provide funds for the Japan and Cuba market” argument, then I don’t know what you are talking about, since we matched the A’s, money-wise on Cespedes, just not years (and his year this year may give people pause as to how much of a steal he actually was), and I can’t think of anyone else other than Soler that anyone is talking about, but I could be mistaken.

                Regardless, even given your argument, the idea that ownership has failed “spectacularly” is laughable on it’s face. It’s done exactly what it said it would, depending on how you want to parse the idea of putting money back into the team. Everyone with working brain cells knew once we were in a rebuilding mode the team was going to be bad. And guess what? The team is bad.

                1. SH

                  If Cespedes puts up two more seasons as “bad” as this one* to complete his contract with the As, his deal paid off for Beane in terms of $/bWAR. (Based on the rate of $5M/bWAR, which is somewhat outdated and is only going to be subject to more inflation).

                  *He still performed better than any regular Cubs OF in bWAR.

                  1. BT

                    Or he had a slightly lower OPS+ than Nate Schierholtz.

                    Also, I should probably have to actually say he had a bad season for you to use “bad” in quotes when responding to my post, don’t you think? Because I wasn’t saying he was bad, I was saying that his second season wasn’t nearly as impressive as his first. Which it wasn’t.

                    1. YourResidentJag

                      However, does his ability to play better defensively at multiple OF positions change things? I would say…yes. I would also contend that the FO was putting Schierholtz into the best situations possible.

                2. Caryatid62

                  Many people on this board, including myself, were calling for them to make those moves at the time. It’s not Monday morning quarterbacking when it’s being done in real-time.

                  1. BT

                    Shockingly, you missed the point. “Calling for them to make those moves at the time” and advocating that they double everyone else’s blind bid for a Japanese pitcher and drop 42 million on a guy no one had seen in Puig are two entirely different concepts. EVERYONE would have liked to sign Darvish and Puig. It’s that manner in which both of them were signed that scared off the rest of the major leagues.

                    Now that you have seen how they played, you can sit back as say of course Darvish was worth 100 million, and of course Puig was worth 42 million. In both cases, 29 other MLB teams did not think they were worth what the Rangers and Dodgers bid/spent on them respectively, and it wasn’t really close. Clearly they all failed spectacularly.

            2. Voice of Reason


              1. Since they haven’t gotten it done anything else is excuse making? You have no idea how business works, especially when dealing with the government.

              2. You admitted that you don’t know if Theo had the opportunity to spend the money and didn’t or if the Ricketts didn’t give him the money in the first place? What in the hell are you arguing then? Since you don’t know, I don’t think you’re qualified to answer my question!

              They’ve executed the rebuild really well! They have one of the top minor league systems in the game. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t totally understand what a rebuild entails!

              1. Caryatid62

                I feel you’re being a polyanna. We’re not going to agree, and
                Ikely never agree. I’ll leave it at that.

  29. Scott

    As someone who lives in Tampa, FL, I will say that I only get to see Cubs games on WGN or ESPN/2. I just want whatever is best for the Cubs.. If that means they won’t be on WGN, then so be it. I’m sure that if I want to watch the Cubs that badly, I can always subscribe to whatever package that I have to, assuming whatever channel they end up on, will be available in such and such a package.

  30. robert w pfauth cedar spring / grand rapids michigan

    Im like other out Chicago im in Mich most Avery game on csn is blocked out for us and their is allot of cubs fans over here that would like to see a good TV broadcast for the cubs games so we don’t have to become full time tigers fans.

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