Ed Sherman reports today that WGN radio intends on opting to renegotiate their broadcasting deal with the Cubs.
I'm told by industry sources that WGN is losing a ton of money on the Cubs broadcasts. Do they want to continue their relationship with the Cubs? You bet. However, the price to do so has to come down.
Another media source tells me this is a smart move by WGN. Yet if the Cubs were to become radio free agents following the 2014 season, there would be plenty of interest from other stations in town.
Sherman sees the Cubs having no other option other than WGN.
The Cubs don't appear to have much leverage if they want to shop their games in the market, which now is an option for them. WSCR-AM 670 is locked in with the White Sox.
I'm told both ESPN AM1000, and WSCR 670 AM would love the chance at hosting Cubs games. As far as WSCR being locked in contractually with the White Sox, I'm still digging. However, I'm told from multiple sources, given the chance, they would dump the Sox in a hurry for the Cubs.
In 2010 Tom Ricketts appeared on ESPN radio's "Lunch with a Legend" series. ESPN executives from Bristol flew in for that very lunch at Morton's. Those same execs met with Ricketts for a private lunch right after. Could it have been just a get to know you meeting? More likely it was about laying the groundwork for a relationship down the line.
What we do know is WGN radio isn't happy with their current deal. The Cubs aren't happy with their current WGN TV deal. Could the Cubs renegotiate a package that makes sense for both parties, television and radio wise? That is very much still on the table.
I was also 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 I've learned. Comcast, I'm told, is planning to silo off an additional channel dedicated to Cubs games in a potentially larger agreement.
That scenario would make the most sense for all involved. The Cubs could get their TV money they need to compete as they claim. As for the Cubs having their own network? Industry people tell me it is really difficult to foresee the Cubs operating such an ambitious project with Comcast having deals with all of the major teams in town.
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