According to a report from Patrick Mooney, the Cubs “are in talks with Fox about their broadcasting future” as the team looks to maximize their television revenue. A deal with Fox would end the Cubs relationship with WGN “and potentially lay the groundwork for a second regional sports network in Chicago.”
The Cubs exercised an option in their contract with WGN TV on Nov. 6 that gave their longtime partner 30 days to negotiate a new deal or the Cubs could shop their broadcast rights to other outlets. The Cubs had to exercise the option when they did or they would have been locked into the contract with WGN TV through the 2022 season. The Cubs are under contract with Comcast SportsNet through the 2019 season.
The team is reportedly paid around $60 million per season from WGN and Comcast SportsNet to televise the games, with $20 million coming from the games broadcast on WGN TV. When the Cubs opted out of the deal in November, most thought the team and WGN would work out a new five-year contract that would end after the 2019 season. But that does not appear to be the case. WGN will carry the games during the upcoming season.
According to Mooney’s report, “one concept being discussed is a bridge deal that would put X-number of games on a local Fox affiliate during that five-year window, before taking the full schedule to a new channel in 2020.”
The front office is banking on the business side providing the revenue they need in order to compete. Patrick Mooney pointed to the fact Crane Kenney negotiated the long-term contract with the rooftops that is stalling the Wrigley Field restoration plans in his report.
Teams are capitalizing on the big-money television deals that are now part of the game’s landscape. And while the Cubs do not figure to sign a television contract near the size of the one the Dodgers inked with Time-Warner Cable, the Cubs’ television rights figure to be worth more than the 25-year, $2.5 billion contract the Phillies just received.
The Cubs are expected to address their radio and television contracts during the Cubs Convention.
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Full Report from Nov. 6, 2013 - Cubs Opt Out of Contract with WGN-TV for after the 2014 Season
- Cubs Future on 720 WGN Remains in Question