Good news on the TV front for folks in Des Moines, Indianapolis, Peoria, and Champaign who don’t get Chicago stations but would have otherwise been blacked out on MLB.tv or Extra Innings: you’re going to be getting some Cubs games.
- Folks in Peoria were already getting the WGN-9 games, but now you’re also getting 20 of the ABC-7 games on My59. (h/t tps)
- I mentioned these in a couple sets of Bullets recently, but, since we’re updating the TV stuff anyway, I’ll mention it again: folks in Champaign will get 24 games on WCIX. And folks in Indianapolis will get 46 games on WISH-TV and MyIndy-TV 23.
- And it sounds like folks in Des Moines, when they’re not going to I-Cubs games, will be able to watch some of the big team, too – @HotStoveCubbies shares a list of Cubs games that will be on KCWI and WOI. As far as I can find, those stations have not yet announced they will be broadcasting Cubs games, so you may have to take this as just a “strong rumor” for now. It always seemed very likely that Des Moines would be getting some games eventually, though, given the large Cubs fan contingent there. (UPDATE: The I-Cubs confirmed on Twitter.)
- So, I believe that means Des Moines, Indianapolis, Peoria, Champaign, Fort Wayne, Rockford, and Quad Cities will be getting at least some games. I don’t think I’ve missed a South Bend announcement, but someone can holler at me if I have.
The hope remains that all major areas in the Cubs’ blackout region (Illinois, Iowa, most of Indiana, and a little bit of southern Wisconsin) will get some games by way of one of these syndication deals.
The Cubs have indicated that they are working with MLB to lift the blackout restrictions for games that are unequivocally not made available in a given area within that region. This would have to be a special exception given how important the blackout regions are to MLB’s TV rights model, but this is an unusual situation.
Typically, where viewers in the blackout region don’t have access to their team’s games it’s because the games are being provided in the area, but their cable or satellite operator refuses to carry the games. In other words, in most areas that are blacked out for a given team, if you’re willing to switch providers or pay yours extra for a special sports package or an extra RSN channel, you can get access to the games (it’s just expensive and/or a pain in the but).
In this situation, unless every city in the blackout region gets a syndication deal done to carry all of the Cubs’ over-the-air games, there will be some Cubs games that are flat-out not available in any way to some people in some cities. MLB doesn’t want that. The Cubs don’t want that. So, hopefully there will be many more syndication deals, and hopefully folks who aren’t covered can decide whether they want to watch on MLB.tv or Extra Innings. I also hope we know the final tally more clearly by Opening Day.
And Andy Dolan (Desipio) says (oh, and KristyJeff in the comments, too) Rockford is getting all of the over-the-air WGN/ABC games, not just some, via 23.2 and 17.2.
So, there you go. More and more coverage. I’m guessing most of the area will be covered by the time the season rolls around, or within a few weeks of Opening Day. You may just have to do some channel flipping to find the first WGN or ABC game (or call your local stations to find out).