Is the Cubs-WGN Relationship at a Close? And Other Bullets

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Is the Cubs-WGN Relationship at a Close? And Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

cubs broadcast boothMercy, the roads were horrible this morning. When I’m sliding around in a big SUV (‘Merica!), I can only imagine what it’s like for that rear-wheel drive Mustang in front of me. Except I don’t have to imagine it, I have to drive behind it: a car so very not intended for Midwest winters, sliding completely to the left and right at anything over 2 mph. My 10 minute trip to take the kiddos to school took me 30.

  • Media maven Robert Feder writes about the Chicago media stories heading in 2014, and he suggests that the expectation is now that the Cubs and WGN – both TV and radio – will end their relationship after this year. Recall, the Cubs’ broadcast deal with WGN TV is due to end after 2014 (after the Cubs opted out of their deal), and the Cubs’ broadcast deal with WGN Radio is due to end after 2014 (after WGN Radio opted out of their deal). In theory, negotiations are ongoing about preserving those relationships – the TV deal is the big one, and the Cubs will need to find a broadcast partner for the WGN portion of their games from at least 2015 until 2019, when their deal with CSN ends and the full slate of games becomes available.
  • Are those negotiations actually done? While that was always a possibility, I’d be surprised if Feder was reporting such a big deal in a small, single line among many, many others: “With unprofitable deals up at the end of the 2014 season, both WGN-Channel 9 and WGN AM 720 will part company with the Chicago Cubs, ending the team’s 88-year relationship with Tribune Co.” That’s all Feder says on the subject. It reads like a prediction, but the other items in his piece are all things that are definitely going to happen. So … I guess we’ll see.
  • The wild card in all of this, for me, has always been the WGN-9 (local) and WGN-America (national) dichotomy of WGN. Locally, of course they want to retain Cubs games. But as the Tribune Company seeks to make WGN-America into more of a national, TBS-like, self-produced programming type station, the constant prime-time interruption of Cubs games could be an issue – especially when those games’ ratings, while strong in Chicago, might not be particularly strong in, say, Columbus, Ohio, when compared to much cheaper ‘How I Met Your Mother’ reruns. (In other words, the Cubs could be pushing WGN for more dollars at the very time when WGN is wondering whether they want Cubs games at all. Throw in the whispers of the Cubs’ inability to market their WGN games to any other cable station while the CSN deal is in place (through 2019), and you might have a very limited market for those WGN games from 2015 to 2019.)
  • Tony Andracki with 14 questions facing the Cubs in 2014. I’d say he’s got most of them, though I’d add the TV question implied by that previous Bullet, and when the Cubs will be major players in free agency again.
  • One of those questions is about whether Anthony Rizzo can bounce back from a down 2013 (I’d say that all indicators are that, with expected positive regression, he will “bounce back” in 2014 and be pretty darn good). Carrie Muskat talks to Rizzo on a wide range of topics, including that 2013 season. It’s a great read for Rizzo’s thoughts on new manager Rick Renteria, old manager Dale Sveum, how Rizzo is approaching the offseason, and what he sees ahead for himself and the Cubs.
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Author: Brett Taylor

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