Huge news this morning for the Cubs’ new TV network, Marquee Sports: they’ve landed a deal with a major streaming service, Hulu+ Live TV.
The negotiations with the various over-the-top streamers have been ongoing for a while, and locking one down is huge news. Not only does it hook up Hulu+ Live TV users with Marquee and Cubs games, it also now puts pressure on the other streamers – YouTube TV being the big one – to pick up the channel as soon as possible. I reckon that’ll happen soon. Moreover, it gives users in the region a quality over-the-top choice for a provider that has Marquee if they’re no longer interested in doing the traditional cable thing.
… which, yes, is to say that this applies additional pressure on Comcast Xfinity to pick up the Marquee Sports Network. Nearly half of the Chicago region is currently attached to Comcast, so obviously it’s been the biggest open carriage question for Marquee for a good long time now, and it comes with a number of unique challenges in getting a deal done, as we’ve discussed. Getting a major streaming service locked down will help in those negotiations, I’m sure, especially in a world where the Cubs and Marquee have made the same carriage offer to every provider (and the rumored price tag is actually pretty reasonable).
It’s also good timing to get this deal with Hulu done now, as the network launches in five days with the Cubs’ first Spring Training game. There are going to be waaaaaay more Cubs spring games broadcast this year than ever before.
***NOTE***: My understanding is that *live games* will still be limited to the Cubs’ home region (Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and a little bit of southern Wisconsin), but I’ve got a question out to Marquee to confirm. I don’t want folks out-of-market getting too excited this morning that they can get Marquee, with Cubs games, in Florida. My expectation is that you will either not be able to get Marquee at all, or will be able to get it without games (which you’d have to get separately via MLB.tv).
UPDATE: Just confirming that, yes, if you’re in-market (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, southern bit of Wisconsin), Hulu+ Live TV will carry Marquee. Out-of-market, not. You can continue to do the MLB dot TV thing.