There are some rumblings out there that the Cubs could be closing in on that long rumored TV deal.
However, like anything Cubs, it's complicated. That's a kinder phrase than the one I heard yesterday to describe things.
I received indications that Fox Sports is feeling good about their chances of swooping in and taking over the WGN portion of the Cubs TV broadcast rights. The feeling relayed was that an announcement could even be coming soon.
There are a lot of moving parts here, however.
WGN is not completely out of this just yet. There was a deadline of December 31 that was extended. The two longtime partners are still talking. Another source has always painted the picture that WGN would have a much better shot at keeping their TV relationship going with the club rather than a radio deal.
However, I mentioned back in the summer, the Cubs were eyeing a bigger TV picture by 2020.
I was informed back in the spring by a television executive that Comcast will make a strong play for the Cubs entire TV broadcast rights. The Cubs are currently locked into a cable non-compete with Comcast until 2020. Out of the four clubs in town that partner with Comcast, the Cubs hold the biggest share. Comcast is planning to silo off an additional channel dedicated to Cubs games in a potentially larger agreement.
CSN's Patrick Mooney recently reported Fox as the favorites to make this type of deal happen. I had heard the possibility of a Fox earlier as well. Yet, the preexisting deal with Comcast made more sense to some.
Fox is making a huge push again to be a major player in the Sports market with the launch of Fox Sports 1. Having a team like the Cubs would allow Fox a major presence here in Chicago. It may cost them. Some speculate Fox could lose money on this deal until the 2020 season, a sacrifice for a long term view.
The plan after WGN is potentially out is for a local Fox affiliate to pick up those games until 2019 (the rest of the games will stay on Comcast Chicago), then all games will migrate to the Fox owned regional sports net (possibly named Cubs Net) in 2020.
We should find out where the Cubs land with both the TV and radio deals no later than opening day, possibly sooner.
As if it will be that simple.
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