Earlier this season, the Chicago Cubs posted ratings on CSN not seen since the Summer of 2011. Ah, who can forget that Summer, when the weight of an ill-constructed, aging, expensive roster collapsed, Jim Hendry lost his job, and Tom Ricketts set about the process of overhauling the entire organization. (I guess, then, it wasn’t all bad.)
And now the Cubs have done it again, this time with WGN-TV. The local WGN station – channel 9 – with whom the Cubs have a deal for a portion of their games, says last night it saw its highest ratings for a Cubs broadcast since that same Summer of 2011. Folks tuned in to watch Addison Russell’s debut, and they stuck around to watch the Cubs complete an incredible comeback. That, despite being up against the Blackhawks’ playoff game in the later innings.
You may not be super into the ratings game, but, how the Chicago Cubs perform in the ratings in the next couple years is probably going to be significantly important in determining just how strong the long-term TV deal will be after 2019 – and, in turn, the strength of that deal is going to determine just how much resource strength the Cubs’ front office has to work with.
That long-term deal is likely to be negotiated over the course of the next year or two, which means showing strong ratings this year is huge. It proves that, (1) yes, when the Cubs are competitive, the fans will tune in, and (2) the Cubs could be competitive for a long time.