Not today, man! Save this for next week, or tomorrow, at least …
As you know, the Chicago Cubs have been busily working on getting a TV partner for the portion of the 2015 games that are currently available for bidding thanks to the Cubs opting out of their deal with WGN-TV last year. Because the team’s full slate of games are available after 2019, and because they cannot sell those former WGN games to another cable network from 2015 to 2019, their options for a deal have been relatively limited.
In recent months, the possibility of the Cubs returning to WGN in the short-term have popped up, and indeed that has started to look like the most likely outcome for 2015, at least.
Enter Matt Spiegel:
From a solid source: Cubs in serious talks,deal nearly final, to put 45 games on WGN-9, local only,for 2015. Fate of other 15 games unclear.
More from source on Cubs TV: Remaining 15 games could end up part of WGN-TV deal,or may end up as one-offs for other channels such as The U.
If and when something actually goes down, I’ll do a much, much deeper dive on the implications of the Cubs working out a short-term deal like this for the portion of their games that are available. The big money won’t come until the full slate deal is negotiated (possible before 2019, though the big money likely won’t kick in until then), but getting the 2015 situation fully squared away is an important step. I doubt the Cubs are going to see much of a revenue increase here, but it’s possible there will be a revenue-sharing component – and if the Cubs do as well as we think they might, then maybe there will be a slight bump. Keep in mind: it’s not like the money the Cubs were getting from the previous WGN deal was anything special. It was dreadfully under market. Like Madison Bumgarner contract under market.
For local Chicagoans, if Spiegel’s report is correct, you will notice no difference from last year. For those outside of Chicago, however, remember that WGN America – the cable channel – is ditching the superstation in favor of a full-on cable network, and they don’t really want to carry Cubs games anymore. This will be a particular problem for those who live in the MLB.tv blackout region for Cubs games, but who don’t get WGN-9’s local Chicago channel. Take it up with MLB’s territorial restrictions and control over streaming – it’s been good for business and good for local TV deals, but not so good for all fans.
Given WGN America’s decision to drop Chicago sports, and given the CSN cable exclusivity, this was always going to happen (unless the Cubs put all of the games on CSN, which I’m not sure CSN was even interested in). It’s a bummer, but it’s the reality of a complicated situation.