New Cubs network offers mixed bag
On Feb. 13, the Chicago Cubs announced that they will launch a regional sports network in 2020 with Sinclair Broadcasting Group named the Marquee Sports Network, marking a significant change in the way Cubs games will be broadcast. Except those that are nationally televised, all other Cubs games will air on this network starting one season from now. This new network has some pros and cons, and I give my take on how I think this benefits the Cubs and their fans.
- The Cubs do deserve to have their own network. They have been around since 1876 and have a lot of history that resonates with the people of Chicago. The following the Cubs have in Chicago fascinates many baseball fans outside of the city. The New York Yankees have a similar situation with the regional sports network YES Network, though they also broadcast Brooklyn Nets games. With the Yankees owning a minority of the network, they are allowed to have many Yankees-related shows that only add to the well-established franchise. The Cubs are also a well-established franchise, and I know that many people that have the time to watch these types of shows will do so, as well as having a “blast from the past” when they watch archival games.
- Channel flipping will now be a dead tradition. I can’t tell you how many times throughout the years that I’ve had to scroll through WGN, ABC, NBCSC, NBCSC+, and other channels that the Cubs are currently not being broadcast on to find Cubs games. It’s like they’re on a different channel each night. Not any more.
- Saying goodbye to Cubs games on WGN will be tough. The Cubs have been on WGN since the 1948 season, so this farewell will not be easy for fans considering this has been a tradition for most people’s lives. WGN will not broadcast any of Chicago’s professional sports teams after this year, which is just another downer for Chicagoans. Also, this agreement marks the end of games being on free TV except for games on FOX, hurting those without cable. However, not having cable is usually not an issue for sports fans, so I don’t this as being a major negative.
- Speaking of cable, the cost your cable or satellite bill will go up. This network is adding on to the regional sports fees of NBCSC. Right now the speculative price is at five dollars a month, so having to pay an extra 60 dollars a year isn’t going to excite many people, especially those who don’t watch sports at all. The biggest concern now is if this network is going to picked up by every cable and satellite provider in Chicago. This has been a problem for the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose games are covered in a similar way on the regional sports network Spectrum SportsNet LA that Cubs games will be on the Marquee Sports Network. Spectrum SportsNet LA is currently not available on every TV provider in Southern California, a fate that could happen to the Marquee Sports Network. However, Sinclair Broadcasting Group does have a history of getting deals done with many TV providers, so hopefully this does not become an issue for the Cubs.
If everything goes well, this is exactly what the Cubs deserve and need. They are a nationally-recognized sports team, and people in Chicago strongly support this team, even when they were terrible. I will be really interested in how the Ricketts family uses this network to their and the Cubs’ advantages. I have confidence that the shows being run on the program will be at a high quality, and the prospect of hearing former Cubs on these show should excite all Cubs fans. The Cubs not being on WGN will be saddening at first, but it’s the 21st century, and cable and paid subscriptions are just a part of our lives now. So, say hello to a new era of Cubs baseball, one that will build on the great traditions of the franchise and keep the fans happy for many more decades.