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Creative Cubs TV Rights, Braves IFA Punishment Coming, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

I was supposed to be having my foot surgery today (injured it in college demonstrating old timey baseball (seriously), lived with it for 15 years, but now it’s too much), but I had to push it back to late January because of scheduling issues. I’m not looking forward to the surgery, but I was looking forward to getting the dang thing done. So I’m pretty bummed today.


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  • I am not a hockey guy, so I was wholly unfamiliar with this story about the former Blackhawks owner refusing to allow home games to be broadcast locally, even when the games were sold out, and even though there was a direct relationship there with the cable provider that could have carried the games. He then tried to sell home games on a Pay-Per-View basis, and the results were totally not worth it. It’s an interesting anecdote to keep in the back of the mind as we move into this new era of content consumption, with the Cubs the next major-market MLB team up for a new broadcast rights deal (the current deals expire after 2019). The Cubs do not control their own internet streaming rights, which would seem to be the most valuable piece of the pie at this point (the rights are controlled by MLB as a whole so that they can share the revenues equally among the teams), but they can essentially bundle those rights together with the cable rights (i.e., authenticated subscribers to the channel also get to stream). You’d love for the Cubs to figure out a way to be creative to (1) maximize their revenue, and (2) best serve the fans, but it’s going to be very challenging in a world that was never really set up for the way people consume their baseball these days.
  • At last check, the Cubs’ plan was to partner with a service provider or an existing cable network to create a new regional sports network, which would then pay the Cubs for their games. Typically, these things are sorted out well in advance because of the runway need to get a new network up and running smoothly. I’d expect news on this front relatively soon, but, then again, because of the increasingly complicated landscape, who knows. Moreover, with more and more cord cutters coming along, and more and more carriers balking at the fees associated with pricey RSNs, it’s hard to know what structure for a long-term rights deal is even going to work going forward.
  • Ben Badler reports that MLB is reaching out to various Braves prospects today to talk to them about the IFA scandal, which is a strong suggestion that the Braves are going to be losing those prospects. We still don’t entirely know the extent of the Braves’ ill deeds, only that they were sufficiently bad that they cost the jobs of the GM and a second high-ranking official (and the president just left last week, ostensibly on his own terms, but come on). It’s expected that the market is about to be flooded with a whole bunch of new IFA prospects, including one of the biggest names in recent years, infielder Kevin Maitan.

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  • This seems an appropriate time to remind folks that, although the Braves may have been the biggest and/or first identified offender, there was a report last month that many, many more teams were under investigation on IFA issues.
  • Bad news on the Cubs beat, as Robert Feder reports that Patrick Mooney has been let go by NBC Sports Chicago. The network has laid off a number of employees in recent weeks, including White Sox beat writer Dan Hayes, who was one of the best. Together with Mooney, that’s a couple huge losses on the baseball side, both for NBC and for baseball fans. Hopefully Mooney finds a place somewhere else on the Cubs beat, because he is excellent.
  • If you missed it yesterday, a whole bunch of Cubs news rolled out:
  • Greg Maddux’s two-seamer was just so crazy:

https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/932295871995285504

  • An unbelievably perfect and hilarious thing happened yesterday, I saw a clip of it, and I tweeted it. Then the internet blew it up:

  • But the best part was that it afforded me the opportunity to make this:

  • Also: for the people out there who make great GIFs, I have so much respect for you. That simple GIF right there took me a very long, tedious, frame-by-frame time to complete. I’m sure there’s a better way.
  • META: I don’t know what we can do at this point, but apparently the complete gutting of Net Neutrality is coming, and with it, the possibility for internet service providers to create “tiers” of internet service where sites like BN could theoretically have to pay (each individual provider) so that your access to the site (access you already pay for on a monthly basis to that provider) is not slowed or cut off. It’s a nightmare for innovation on the internet, for consumers, and for sites like this one. On the bright side, litigation will follow immediately, and it’s possible that legislators then get involved to come up with a workable solution, rather than just allowing the FCC to decide something this critical. Here’s one legislator summing it up, as best I can tell:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.