The Chicago Cubs and WGN-TV announced a five-year agreement Thursday to televise 45 games per year through the 2019 season. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Beginning with the 2015 season, 45 games return to WGN-TV Ch.9, not WGN America, and reportedly the contract includes opt-out clauses. The team’s partnership with WGN is for broadcasts in the Chicagoland area. WGN America decided last May to move away from televising Chicago sports and focus on original programming.
Under the team’s new media rights deals with WGN-TV and ABC-7, broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies become employees of the Chicago Cubs after previously being employed through WGN-TV. Kasper and Deshaies will call the games on Comcast SportsNet, WGN and ABC-7.
The team did not announce a contract extension for either Len Kasper or Jim Deshaies, both broadcasters are under contract through the 2016 season.
“Cubs fans have grown accustomed to watching Cubs baseball on WGN since 1948, so we are pleased to continue this longstanding tradition through our new broadcast agreement,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney in the release. “We are very excited to begin a new chapter of Cubs baseball with WGN and welcome Jim Deshaies and Len Kasper, two of the best broadcasters in the business, as teammates in our organization.”
“We’re pleased to enter into this new agreement, which continues our longstanding, historic partnership with the Cubs and we’re looking forward to some great baseball,” said Larry Wert, President of Broadcast Media for Tribune Media in the release.
“The positive moves made by the Cubs, including the hiring of Joe Maddon, the signing of Jon Lester, and the club’s investment in Wrigleyville will be great for our city. We believe in the Cubs and the Ricketts family, and we look forward to growing the fan base even further for both the Cubs and WGN-TV.”
WGN-TV (45 games) and ABC-7 (25 games) will carry a combined 70 games of the 162 regular season schedule. Comcast SportsNet will broadcast 80 of the 162 games with ESPN and FOX picking up the rest for National broadcasts.
The Cubs reportedly receive around $750,000 per game from ABC-7 and starting with the 2015 season, around $650,000 per game from Comcast SportsNet.
The Cubs have synced up the team’s media rights contracts where all three deals (CSN, ABC-7, WGN-TV) run through the 2019 season.
Updated 5:09pm CST – According to Jesse Rogers, affiliates outside of the Chicago market are exploring picking up the games broadcast by ABC-7 and WGN-Ch. 9.