Chicago Cubs, Sinclair Create New Regional Sports Channel to Make Fans Pay More to Watch Games
The Chicago Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group are working together to create a regional sports network that will exclusively broadcast the baseball team’s games.
The station, called Marquee Sports Network, will be Sinclair’s first regional sports channel, and is expected to hit the airwaves in 2020, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Cubs games are currently available on cable and over-the-air. In contrast, a majority of Cubs games next season will supposedly air on Marquee Sports Network for an additional fee for subscribers. The cost for distributors to carry the regional channel has yet to be announced.
The new deal will likely end more than 70 years of Cubs over-the-air broadcasts in Chicago (including longtime partner WGN) and neighboring states. The Cubs current cable home, NBC Sports Chicago, has recently signed an agreement to keep White Sox baseball, Blackhawks hockey, and Bulls basketball on its station.
Sinclair is also reportedly pursuing the 22 regional sports networks owned by 21st Century Fox. Walt Disney is being required to sell those stations as a condition for it approving Disney’s acquisition of the majority of Fox’s assets.
The Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network LLC, also known as the YES Network, which is part of that 22, will be sold separately from that group because it is 20% owned by the Yankees.
The team has first dibs on the remaining 80% of the network and is reportedly in talks with Sinclair to join forces on a bid for the station.