According to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, the Cubs are reportedly talking about a potential television deal with FOX.
Behind the scenes, sources say the Cubs are in talks with Fox about their broadcasting future, working on a deal that would end the WGN connection that built the team’s national brand and potentially lay the groundwork for a second regional sports network in Chicago.
Before we delve into this report, it’s important you, as a reader, understand where the Cubs currently sit in terms of their respective television deals.
The somewhat surprising end of the WGN-Cubs partnership that has spanned the better portion of a century is expected to draw to a close after the upcoming 2014 season. Simply put, there’s too much money to be had elsewhere for an organization seeking its first World Series since 1908.
Chicago is also locked into Comcast SportsNet Chicago through 2019, meaning that one of the potential deals being talked about between FOX and the Cubs is, as Mooney puts it, “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.”
Keep in mind that FOX acquired a 49-percent stake in the YES Network two years ago – which came out to a roughly $2 billion deal with the New York Yankees. This pales in comparison to the deal that the Los Angeles Dodgers worked out over a quarter century worth somewhere between $7-$8 billion, but it’s still nothing to scoff at – especially if you’re the Cubs.
The team has been dreadfully quiet this offseason, to the dismay of fans across the country, and with multiple reports surfacing saying that Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is likely to end up in either Los Angeles or New York, the one promising rumor the Cubs had been a part of could soon come to a close.
Getting away from the roster and back to the financial aspect of the franchise, things continue to be less-than-savory, to say the least.
The highly-anticipated $500-million renovation of Wrigley Field and the surrounding area remains at a standstill thanks to disagreements between the organization and two rooftop owners. Payroll continues to be rather low for a large market team, leaving Theo Epstein and Co. in the crosshairs of media and fans alike.
“Looking retrospectively, I think the Cubs have been more dependent on gate revenues than I expected, Epstein said. “It seems like our revenues ebbed and flowed with attendance a lot, and I think that will really switch with a new TV deal.”
Ending a historic relationship with WGN is something that all Cubs fans will be at least a little upset about, and rightfully so. That being said, it’s the next step in rebuilding the franchise that has fallen on some tough times in recent years.
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