Crane Kenney Speaks: Marquee and Comcast Negotiating, WOW! Deal Done, YouTube, More

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Crane Kenney Speaks: Marquee and Comcast Negotiating, WOW! Deal Done, YouTube, More

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs Business President Crane Kenney was on 670 The Score this morning, and I listened in while jotting notes. Obviously, it was all about the Marquee Sports Network.

Here’s what I grabbed, paraphrased from Kenney, as it was happening. I’ll include the full interview here if and when it’s made available (UPDATE: embedded at the bottom of the post):

  • Most of our time right now is spent on finishing carriage deals, including the just-announced deal with WOW!, which is the fourth largest provider in the Chicagoland area.
  • Not done with Comcast yet, conversations are occurring, but no update. We get the WOW deal done, which again does validate the terms that we’re offering. Market is saying they are fair and reasonable terms. I’m not sure what Comcast is waiting for. Look forward to getting them up before Opening Day.
  • We’re happy about how things have gone so far. Ratings on Saturday for the Spring Training opener were on par with the Bulls game at that time, despite the Cubs game not being available in half the Chicago homes. (That seems to me to be more a point about the Bulls than about the Cubs, but I digress.)
  • Sling is tough, because it’s DISH’s product, and they’ve decided they aren’t going to carry RSNs right now.
  • Once a deal is in place, it’s up to the provider to actually get the channel out there for people (i.e., Hulu+ Live TV); it’s not really something the Cubs control. All the Cubs can do is sign the deal, make the channel available to the provider, and urge them to get it up as soon as possible.
  • I think a year from now we should feel good (financially) about what the channel is doing, in terms of what it can provide to the organization.
  • YouTube TV is still an unknown, and it’s hard to predict what they’re going to do. They look differently at the market. It’s a different type of a negotiation. Not so much about Marquee, but more about what they want to do with that type of sports channel. Less certain on that one than I am on Comcast, for example. (My gut read listening to Kenney? I would not expect a deal with YouTube TV right now. Sounded like it would be a surprise if it happened, and it would be because Google made some unilateral corporate decision on local sports content (or is it a baseball issue, specifically?). In other words, I didn’t get the sense that it was a negotiating issue with the Cubs. So that really sucks, and I hope Google changes its position soon.)
  • Intention is to take Marquee outside our market (non-game), but first we’re focused on getting coverage in our market. We aren’t permitted to show our games outside our home territory (those rights are controlled by MLB), but we can make the channel available anywhere if there’s an appetite for it.
  • We know how much of this is about Comcast right now. We can’t call this a success until Comcast is done.
  • The full interview:



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.