Whatever the impact on the Cubs’ baseball budget in the near or long-term, it’s ultimately going to be a good thing for the organization if their new TV network, Marquee Sports Network, is a success. And if it’s going to be a success, it’s going to need to be carried on as many cable and satellite operators as possible – which, by the way, winds up being good news for Cubs fans with those providers anyway.
That is to say, as we discuss what the Cubs will or will not spend this offseason, we can at least note this good news, per a Cubs release:
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) today announced the signing of a multiyear carriage agreement with Mediacom Communications for Marquee Sports Network, the future exclusive television home of the Chicago Cubs. The Mediacom Communications deal provides carriage of the new regional sports network in certain parts of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring Marquee Sports Network to Mediacom customers,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney. “When you combine this deal with AT&T, we can guarantee that Cubs fans in our home territory across Chicago and the Midwest will have the ability to access the network next year.”
The new regional sports network set to launch in 2020 is jointly owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. and the Cubs. Michael McCarthy is the network’s general manager.
“Being able to provide Cubs fans with access to Marquee Sports Network through Mediacom is incredible,” said McCarthy. “As we near the launch of the network, we look forward to giving fans the in-depth Cubs content they want and deserve through multiple providers.”
Marquee Sports Network has also previously reached an agreement to be carried by Charter Communications.
AT&T/DirecTV is the second largest provider of TV service in the Chicago area (behind Comcast), so that one was the biggy, but this is also really big news, given that Mediacom covers a lot of the non-Chicago parts of the Cubs’ broadcast territory.
What that means is: (1) Cubs fans throughout most of the territory (Illinois, Iowa, parts of Wisconsin and Indiana) will at least have ACCESS to the new channel through at least one provider, and (2) having the channel available on some providers but not others will place additional pressure on those other providers to get carriage agreements in place, lest they lose customers.
The Cubs and Sinclair still have to line up deals with Comcast, WOW, RCN, and DISH to cover most of the providers (plus the streamers like YouTube TV and Hulu), so there’s a long way to go before we can celebrate full coverage. But, here in November, for a channel launching in February, this is a really promising start.