There are so many ways to spin this one, so I’m gonna avoid doing any of that in favor of providing the information and context.
The ratings for last night’s Cubs-White Sox exhibition game were through the roof on NBC Sports Chicago:
TV RATINGS NEWS: @NBCSChicago posted its HIGHEST-RATED #WhiteSox telecast (exh. or reg season) since Sept 2012 last evening (3.93 rtg)…’peak’ audience over 156K Chicago market homes. NBC Sports Chicago will also carry tonight’s Sox-Cubs exh gm; live coverage starts at 6:30p CT. pic.twitter.com/AAMA3hM9Yr
— Jeff Nuich (@JeffNuich) July 20, 2020
The game was also available on ESPN, but not locally. The game was also available on Marquee, but they do not yet have carriage on Comcast, which is the provider for upwards of half the homes in the Chicago area.
There have been other White Sox telecasts on NBC Sports Chicago that featured the Cubs, of course, but those tended to feature an opposing Cubs broadcast on WGN-9 or ABC-7. So, last night’s broadcast was definitely a unique animal.
… but still. That’s a huge rating for a White Sox game, their highest in nearly a decade. The inability for half of the Cubs fans in the city to see the game WITHOUT turning to the White Sox broadcast, however, skews things in such a way that you really can’t draw any conclusions beyond “a lot of people in Chicago wanted to watch a fake game between the Cubs and White Sox last night.”
As for Marquee and Comcast, we’re still waiting. Bruce Levine mentioned recently that he was expecting a deal early this week, and Opening Day looms on Friday. I have no doubt the Cubs wanted a deal done before last night’s game, however, so I remain in the “cautiously concerned” camp. The thought that the Cubs and Sinclair and Comcast (they all deserve the pressure here) would allow this season of all seasons to start without a carriage deal in place – truly screwing their fans/customers – remains the kind of thing I’m biting my tongue about. Nothing has happened (or not happened) quite yet. But, yes … “cautiously concerned.” Get a deal done. Soon.