Cubs Reportedly Set to Announce Seven-Year Agreement with WBBM-AM 780

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will announce Thursday a new partnership with CBS Radio that will move Cubs games from WGN-AM 720 to WBBM-AM 780 beginning next season. The Cubs will remain on 720 WGN for the remainder of this season. The Cubs moving from WGN to WBBM will end a relationship that began in 1925.

Robert Feder reported the Cubs “finalized a seven-year agreement to broadcast on CBS Radio all-news WBBM-AM 780 starting with the 2015 season.” Robert Feder also reported the possibility of the Cubs moving to WSCR-AM 670 (The Score) for the 2016 season if the station loses its broadcast rights to the White Sox games, which run through the 2015 season.

Robert Feder spoke with Jimmy de Castro, WGN’s president and general manager, on Tuesday night and de Castro confirmed to Feder the Cubs will no longer be broadcast on WGN after this season.

The Cubs have scheduled a news conference for Thursday at Wrigley Field, where the team is expected to announce the new radio deal.

Financial terms of the Cubs agreement with CBS Radio were not released. The Cubs reportedly received as much as $10 million per season from WGN for the broadcast rights.

Jimmy de Castro told Robert Feder he supports “the efforts of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to rebuild the team, and tried in various ways to come to terms on a renewal with Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney.” WGN was “prepared to lose a lot of money” and among de Castro’s proposals, according to Robert Feder, “were a variety of rights arrangements, revenue sharing deals on top of guarantees, and even a plan that would have given the Cubs ownership in the station.” Feder reported the “Cubs went strictly by the numbers, and WGN chose to waive its right to match CBS Radio’s seven-year cash offer.”

WGN exercised an option in its contract with the Cubs to renegotiate the broadcast rights last October.

The contract the Cubs was looking for, and found with CBS Radio, did not work for WGN. According to Feder’s report, de Castro said, “So it’s really not us saying we don’t want them anymore. It’s the Cubs saying the economics they need are much greater that what we think they’re worth or what we’ll pay. They chose to go another way economically and made a decision to move on.”

Patrick Mooney reported Tuesday night that CBS could use “its local portfolio and national reach to help promote everything from concerts at Wrigley Field to Cactus League games at Cubs Park.” Mooney’s report backs up earlier rumors that would be a part of the new broadcast deal with the team.

Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer are under contract for next season (both contracts run through the 2015 season) and will make the move with the team to WBBM. Hughes’ contract runs through the 2015 season, and Crane Kenney has said Pat Hughes will remain the Voice of the Cubs no matter which station is broadcasting the games.

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  • Tony_H

    This is what I thought would happen way back when the talk of them shopping their radio rights was first mentioned and was told no chance. But it all makes too much sense to not happen.

    • The Dude Abides

      No real skin in the game for me as I listen on Sirius but interested in what makes too much sense not to happen? Signing a deal WBBM?

      • Tony_H

        If you read past the headline, you will see that the deal is with CBS Radio, which also owns 670 TheScore, not just 780. Very likely the Cubs will move to 670 after 2015 when the Sox deal runs out. But it also puts the Score as having a bigger interest in the Cubs and their 24 hour sports talk programming. Also, anything that gets them away from the Tribune is a good thing.

        • The Dude Abides

          Gotcha – so you told people they would sign with the highest bidder and you had people telling you no way they would leave WGN for more money?

          I’ll give it to you Tony, you understand Rickett$. It’s all about the Benjamin’s…

  • Roll

    The important question is will the annual revenue with WBBM exceed what WGN is currently paying and if so by how much?
    Any news on the partial TV deal yet?
    It’s all about new revenue with Ricketts right now.
    Nice little win for the Cubs last night. They needed it.

    • John_CC

      Pretty sure they did not go out and look for less money.

      • DWalker

        If it was for less money, I would have expected a shorter term contract or soem pretty major outs.

      • Swish23

        really not up to the team; its what the market will bear; and when the team is purely horrid and doing so on purpose for years to come; not much leverage for the cubs to push. and doesn’t really matter if the new contract is 2X the old one; none of the monies will be seen by thee MLB team; just like the 25M for the nat’l tv package and the 10M in new monies from budweiser deal at wrigley or the 60M less in payroll; those monies are not the MLB team.