It’ll take a little bit for the final word to come down and for the full ramifications to become clear, but for the moment, this would appear to be a pretty big story in the world of MLB regional sports networks, and particularly for the Cubs, who will soon be partnering with this same entity on their own new network:
— Boston Herald (@bostonherald) April 23, 2019
It’s not necessarily a lock, per the original report, that Sinclair will win the FOX properties (being sold by Disney as part of their merger with FOX). But it does appear that Sinclair is the high bidder, and, after partnering with the Cubs to create the Marquee Sports Network – which launches next year – it’s clear they are in this market heavily.
And if Sinclair does win these FOX RSNs? Well, the headline would be that a monster distributor like Sinclair is then in partnership with the RSNs that control the regional broadcast rights for about HALF of MLB’s teams. The weight they could throw around to ensure heavy regional carriage for their networks would be significant (which would stand to benefit, among others, the Cubs in their efforts to get not only a tip top subscriber price tag for their network, but also a large subscriber base).
Again: when this shakes itself out a little more formally, we can dig into the implications for MLB and the Cubs. I tend to think – setting aside, if you can, what you think of Sinclair as an entity – this would be good news for the Cubs’ future finances.