The Chicago Cubs were first broadcasted on WGN-TV on April 16, 1948, and have partnered since but reports indicate that may end after the 2014 season.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have exercised an option to leave their broadcast contract with WGN-TV following next season.
The Cubs reportedly notified WGN-TV on Tuesday they had 30 days to meet a higher assessed fair market value for the broadcast rights, or they would be opened up for negotiation with other media. WGN-TV currently broadcasts 70 Cubs games.
In January, the Los Angeles Dodgers struck a deal with Time Warner Cable to launch their own cable sports network, which will reportedly pay the team $7 billion to broadcast games over 25 years.
The Cubs get about $20 million to air 70 games each year on WGN. If the team didn’t give notice to opt out at this point in the contract, the deal would run through 2022 at the current rate, and the Cubs would lose any leverage for renegotiating the broadcast rights, according to sources.
Broadcasts of Cubs games are currently split between WGN-TV and Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The deal runs through 2019 and also includes the Blackhawks, Bulls, and White Sox.
The Cubs are looking to generate more revenue and a new deal would certainly help. If WGN-TV and the Cubs reach an agreement until 2019, it would make 72 seasons of Cubs games on one channel, the longest run in Major League Baseball.
If a deal is not established the Cubs are likely to create their own cable sports network.