Chicago Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney was on 670 the Score today with Mully & Haugh, so I wanted to drop a quick set of notes about his comments. You can also catch the full interview here, or embedded at the end of this post.
Among Kenney’s notes …
- As we know, season ticket prices are going down on average 2.5%, which is mostly a factor of the schedule – both timing of games and opponents. It isn’t a reflection of the team’s performance in 2019.
- As for single game tickets, Kenney says no determinations have been made on pricing yet. The details won’t be released until February.
- The Cubs announced their third carriage deal yesterday for the Marquee Sports Network, adding Mediacom to AT&T/DirecTV and Charter. Mediacom is especially big in Iowa, where the Cubs will now have carriage available to upwards of 75,000 more homes that did not have any access to NBC Sports Chicago last year.
- Between those three days, Kenney estimates the Cubs are finished with about 40% of their carriage deals, and it’s a good sign, in his mind, that those deals came together so early. The providers see the value in the channel, Kenney says, and found Marquee’s asking price to be reasonable. In other words, Kenney believes the market is accepting the rates the channel is seeking. (The latest report had the Cubs seeking an actually-pretty-reasonable $4 per month per subscriber, which is another good sign for getting all the carriage deals in place. When you try to squeeze too hard, you wind up not getting carriage and missing out on money anyway (not to mention pissing off your fans like in LA).)
- As for Comcast, which is the biggest provider in the Cubs’ footprint, those negotiations are starting now, primarily led by Sinclair, the Cubs’ distribution partner in Marquee. From me: I would note that, with the other deals in place, and with Sinclair’s weight (they control local stations across the country, as well as the FOX RSNs), I tentatively don’t expect the sides to fail to reach an agreement by February. It might be a tussle before that, and it might go down to the wire, but I’m pretty optimistic that they’re already negotiating.
- Marquee is currently negotiating with the various streaming platforms (Hulu, Sling, etc.) for the channel to be carried on those services in-market. (Remember, out-of-market, you can still see all the Cubs’ games on MLB.tv or Extra Innings, like you always have.)
- As for Marquee subscribers via a cable or satellite service who want to be able to stream, that’ll be available by way of a new Marquee Sports app that is currently being built.
- As for talent on the channel itself, Kenney says that more announcements are coming over the course of the next month.