The Chicago Cubs do not yet have a TV broadcast partner for approximately half of their games from 2015 to 2019. Those rights used to belong to WGN, but the Cubs have yet to find a new partner or to re-up with WGN. The full slate of games are set to come on the market after 2019, which is when the Cubs will likely see their biggest revenue score.
But what about those WGN games next year? Who’s going to show them? Will the Cubs see an increase in revenue? Will the Cubs start their own network using multicast channels?
Here’s where you’re expecting to see an update … but there still isn’t one. The Cubs remain surprisingly mum on their TV plan, even at this late hour. Most teams in recent years have had their TV deals inked well over a year in advance of their start date. The Cubs have just seven months before their new deal would have to kick in.
But, of course, the Cubs’ TV situation isn’t like most teams, given the split in their rights.
Why the long wait? Well, presumably, the Cubs have simply been trying to get the best possible deal, while also laying the groundwork for the bigger deal post-2019. But was there any other reason to wait? Recall, WGN, when opting out of its radio deal with the Cubs, and when the Cubs opted out of the TV deal with WGN, frequently groused that ratings for the team’s games were lousy. And if they were not doing well on the sweetheart deal they had on the TV side, how could any other broadcaster expect to do better while paying even more for the Cubs’ games?
Well, whether by luck or planning, it just so happens that the Cubs’ ratings are suddenly looking as promising as their baseball future. Check this out:
— Jeff Nuich (@JeffNuich) September 4, 2014
Ed Sherman adds that the game netted a 3.20 rating, which is more than double the team’s average on CSN this year.
For context, the Cubs saw a huge bump when Javier Baez debuted back in August, and even that was under 100,000 in viewership. So, we’re talking about an even further increase … for Cubs games … in September … when they’re likely to finish in last place.
Dear future TV rights bidders: do you think maybe the Cubs might do well on TV when the team is actually competitive?
As for the current rights, we’ll see if the recent surge impacts those negotiations. But at least now the team will now have some positive, tangible data to which to point as to the possibility of a ratings bonanza in the coming years.
Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.