A preface I’ve offered before, but it’s the sum of things when talking about ratings. So I’ll offer it again.
With the Chicago Cubs and partner Sinclair launching the Marquee Sports Network in February as the exclusive home of local Cubs games, now is the critical period of time when the Cubs must secure carriage agreements with the various cable and satellite partners.
The Cubs reportedly plan to price the channel aggressively, and Business President Crane Kenney has already indicated that the negotiations on carriage deals might go down to the wire. Having Sinclair’s weight behind them (the threat of blocking their other RSNs (the former Fox ones), or all of their local broadcast stations) is going to help the Cubs, to be sure, but the greatest asset will always have to be the fact that the Cubs can draw lots of eyeballs. More eyeballs means more consumers willing to absorb the added monthly cost to their cable bill, and fewer of them deciding to cut the cord. (For now.)
So, then, it would be nice if the Cubs could show, even in their first non-playoff year in five years, that they still dominate the local ratings.
Although, as we discussed last time, the Cubs saw a noticeable ratings dip this past year, they still owned the local market – as did most of MLB:
Table shows ratings for the 29 US MLB clubs tracked by Nielsen. Ranking on all TV, and just cable; % of increase or decline from 2018…. 2019 MLB Regional TV Ratings In Prime Time Remain Solid via @ForbesSports https://t.co/mRbMu3Tl4b
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) October 15, 2019
As you can see in Brown’s piece, most MLB teams own their local cable primetime ratings. And some, like the Cubs, actually own all primetime TV when they are on the air. That’s a huge plus for the Cubs and Marquee as they look to secure carriage agreements.
The fact that all MLB is still doing well in local TV, despite the advent of cord-cutting, is a big plus, too.
Moreover, as you can see in the chart in the article, there are no teams outside of New York where a baseball team is on more TVs than the Cubs. Like the New York teams, the Cubs’ rating is not at the top of the charts thanks to the small markets, but the sheer volume of viewers is behind only the Yankees and Mets. Again, that is a very nice selling point for Marquee.
For more on the Cubs’ TV situation, check out our last look at ratings and carriage issues.