Cubs owe it to their fans to launch this new streaming service
With the initial start date for spring training nearly upon us, MLB and the MLBPA have yet to come anywhere near reaching a deal that would end the lockout. If things don’t come together quickly, larger ramifications could be felt across the sport, as a whole.
If and when baseball gets going again, Cubs fans may have a new option when it comes to watching games, based on a New York Post report. Chicago is in talks with Sinclair to launch their own streaming service – something the league is reportedly less than thrilled about.
This direct-to-consumer model targets customers without the currently required cable or TV subscription. One of the biggest critiques of the proposal is the cost – estimated at $18 a month – more than even the mega streaming services like Netflix or Disney+.
With all the negative feedback, I am on the other side. This will be a great move. The biggest benefactors would be cities around the Illinois border. For example, some residents in the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin area have a horrible experience with blackouts. When the Cubs are on national television, the game is blacked out on MLBTV along with ESPN (national broadcast), giving them no opportunity to watch the game.
These fans have it the worst and it begs the question that in today’s day and age, why should anyone have to worry about whether or not they’ll even be able to watch their favorite team play?
Sure, the price is high, but the Ricketts are taking advantage of a great opportunity. Not only will it be a necessity for the fans around the Lake Geneva area, but also other towns that are near the Illinois border in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. I’m sure these fans won’t have a problem paying the higher premium. Or how about those fans in the Chicagoland area who rely on streaming services and have been unable to watch the team?
Chicago Cubs: The pros far outweigh the cons if you ask me
Having a no-blackout service that’s first-to-market would hopefully start a domino effect around the MLB. This is the first step to solving the blackout problem and would go a long way for the league.
The fourth-most valuable franchise in the Chicago Cubs have the opportunity to be trend setters. An additional bonus of this service would be the ability to check into games in the farm system. We watched Jed Hoyer and the front office do a complete overhaul of the team in 2021 to rebuild the farm system, so to have a service that allows fans to keep a tab on these new stars in the pipeline would be another way to increase engagement.
Another win this could bring is on the national stage. The MLB showcases national broadcasts on ESPN, Fox and TBS. However, the game chosen depends on the regional market. Going back to the domino effect, if the Cubs can start this movement to solve the blackout problem, games could be viewed on regional networks and one game could be selected for the national broadcast. This would give teams more exposure to the rest of the country which would be another step towards growing the game.
As someone who has been affected firsthand by the blackouts, this news is exciting and is a step in the right direction. The cost seems high, but for a product that again would be first-to-market, they can initially get away with it. That being said, we need this front office to come out of the lockout firing, as a competitive group will only add value to this service.