Chicago Cubs: Chicago is about to pay for NBC Sports and Marquee
In Chicago, it’s just a mess. Chicago area Cable TV fans of the Bulls, Blackhawks and the Laundry (White Sox) are already paying NBC Sports Chicago a line item fee of nearly $9 for the service in their cable bill which used to include the Cubs. Do you know that small increase in your bill? Hmmmmm. Marquee wants to charge the same amount, $9, for dare I say, just the Chicago Cubs channel and it’s going to happen! Not only is it going to happen but the Chicago Tribune also reported:
"A source close to the Cubs projects the regional sports fee will climb to $12 or $13 per month in the Chicago area after Marquee goes live in February, with the Cubs-Sinclair network getting $6 or $7 of that total."
So Marquee will actually charge Chicago viewers almost 50% more then it costs for NBC Sports Chicago and their three teams. Marquee points to the fact that since the Cubs won it all, their ratings have been better than all three of those teams combined.
Geez, what is that like? A 150% combined monetary valuation elevation of the Cubs above the other Chicago teams broadcast image based on customers perception and the belief in a Cub fans undying need to watch? Just like that? Overnight? BAM! Now we’re worth 50% more than each of you?
You got it. We say it worth more because we say it and so will the fans. Marquee knows how much Cub fans love their team and so everyone in Chicago is about to pay plenty for the Cubs.
But what if you don’t like the Chicago Cubs?
Well, it’s just like HGTV or any other station you ignore on cable, you’re still paying for it (no offense HGTV). I love this quote the Chicago Tribune ran about how Chicago cable subscribers will pay regardless:
"“They’ll not only pay more if they want to watch it, but they’ll pay more if they don’t want to watch it,” said media analyst Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research."
See what I mean? It’s a mess.
The other thing to consider is that the Chicago Bears renewed their contract with Fox32 to air the NFL team’s weekly programming for a further five years in October 2017. Fox32 is essentially WFLD and currently owned by the Fox Corporation (a company formed by the Walt Disney Company in 2019 after their acquisition of 21st Century Fox).
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Check this out: last week Sinclair Broadcasting (owns Marquee) closed a $10.6 billion deal with Disney and bought 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks to include Indiana, Ohio and the Fox Midwest networks. Who’s to say that in a couple of years of ironing out the kinks in Marquee, that Sinclair doesn’t bid on the Fox Chicago network and the Bears don’t jump on board?
I know. It’s so cliche to think of ‘Bears and Cubs’ programming, but why not? Didn’t I say earlier that Marquee is showing ‘Disney quality’? The two sports juggernauts of Chicago joining forces for the good of sports viewership and fees everywhere in the Windy City! It’s Disney, Ricketts, Marquee, Sinclair, Cubs, Bears, Fox, Oh My… singing kumbaya to the bank!
You heard it here first: a Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears channel, partnership, Tom Ricketts & Virginia Halas McCaskey, Fox RSN, Marquee; I’m telling you, people will call me the Chicago Cubs Guz-stradamus. Just remember you read it.
What if the Bears ownership says they get better ratings than all four teams? Yikes! How much would that cost fans in Chicago? Partnership over. Oh, it’s coming Cubs fans… I digress I know, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong (Guz-strad..).
Right now the focus for Marquee is sales, and that’s what the Chicago Cubs new Sports Network is doing: trying to find buyers nationwide.
All we truly know about the ‘programming’ for the new kid on the block or dare I say ‘Cubbie’ network, is that Marquee will carry the Cubs games (not all but most) and what Patrick Mooney wrote for the Athletic (Subscription required):
"…the Cubs aren’t planning to design a 24/7 network with original content by next spring. Instead, the core elements during the season figure to be pre- and post-game coverage, game broadcasts, an occasional clubhouse magazine-style show and replaying, again and again, classic games from the Cubs’ library…"
That’s what you’ll be getting in February most likely, and that’s where the info ends. There’s a lot of guessing and supposing going on right now as fans and writers are talking about the Cubs YouTube channel as a model for what Marquee might be aiming at for programming material and of course Marquee is promising an ‘incredible broadcasting experience’ but no details. Who knows?
There shouldn’t be this much ambiguity for simple answers like availability, streaming, and what channel Marquee will be. That’s not ‘Disney quality.’
I hate to be throwing stones at what will probably be my favorite channel ever; that is if I can ever subscribe or see it, but hopefully pointing out a few areas of neglect might help the new Cubs Marquee Sports Network get off on the right foot.
Hey Marquee, no charge for any of the business insights, but if you get the Cubs and the Bears I want a free subscription.