[See UPDATE below. It’s happening.]
On your toes. There figures to be big news announced later today.
The Chicago Cubs and Sinclair broadcasting will announce today the formation of Marquee regional sports network. This will be the exclusive home for all Chicago Cub TV games beginning in Feb 2020.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) February 13, 2019
Cubs complete deal w Sinclair Broadcast Group to create the Marquee Sports Network. New RSN will be the team’s exclusive local TV home and debut in spring of ‘20. Much more to come in SBD today.
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) February 13, 2019
When the announcement drops, we’ll dig into the implications and any attendant information made available at that time (expected revenue? other sports partners? Sinclair’s involvement? carriage fees? any carriage deals already in place? any streaming modifications? out-of-market options?).
For more on the expected deal an the partnership with Sinclair – controversial in the minds of some – see some of our earlier notes here.
UPDATE: It’s officially happening. Here’s the release from the Cubs, which is light on details, but it’s a start:
The Chicago Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group today announced the launch of Marquee Sports Network to provide increased access and around-the-clock coverage of the team. This new regional sports network will be the exclusive television home of the Chicago Cubs beginning in 2020.
In addition to live game broadcasts, which will continue to feature broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies, Marquee Sports Network will provide extensive pregame and postgame coverage, unique Cubs content and other local sports programming.
“We are excited to better serve our fans with expanded and exclusive programming showcasing our remarkable players, beloved ballpark and storied past,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney. “Our dedicated ‘Cubs-centric’ network will carry all available Cubs games and feature uncompromising, in-depth and behind-the-scenes coverage.”
Given its deep relationships with distributors and affiliations with all the major networks, Sinclair Broadcast Group is well-positioned to help ensure the success of Marquee Sports Network.
“This partnership brings together one of the most iconic sports franchises in the country with one of the largest television broadcasting companies,” commented Sinclair’s President and CEO Chris Ripley. “It is hard to imagine any content that is more unique and valuable than the live sports entertainment the Cubs have been delivering to their fans for more than a century. Sinclair’s strength in production, distribution and local sales will support bringing more content to more viewers, all while leveraging the latest technology.”
The creation of this network further demonstrates the Ricketts family’s long-standing commitment to provide an enhanced experience for Cubs fans.
“From preserving and enhancing Wrigley Field, to building Sloan Park and Gallagher Way, to expanding in-game programming and increasing our social media engagement, our fans are at the heart of everything we do,” said Kenney. “It’s time we deliver the comprehensive coverage and rich content they desire.”
The one newsy bit in there is the mention of “other local sports,” which was expected, but now confirmed. No details yet on what other local sports will be included on the channel, and that may well still be under negotiation.
More details as they become available, and then after that, a more thorough deconstruction of what this all means for you.