This new regional sports network will be the exclusive television home of Cubs game broadcasts. According to the team, Marquee Sports Network will provide extensive pregame and postgame coverage, unique Cubs content and other local sports programming. Broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will be part of the new effort.
“We are excited to better serve our fans with expanded and exclusive programming showcasing our remarkable players, beloved ballpark and storied past,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney. “Our dedicated ‘Cubs-centric’ network will carry all available Cubs games and feature uncompromising, in-depth and behind-the-scenes coverage.”
Sinclair Broadcast Group is the largest operator of television stations in the United States, controlling 193 stations in over 100 markets. It was an early bidder on 22 RSNs put up for sale by Disney as part of its acquisition of Fox assets, but declined to bid in the second round.
“This partnership brings together one of the most iconic sports franchises in the country with one of the largest television broadcasting companies,” said Sinclair’s President and CEO Chris Ripley in a press statement. “It is hard to imagine any content that is more unique and valuable than the live sports entertainment the Cubs have been delivering to their fans for more than a century. Sinclair’s strength in production, distribution and local sales will support bringing more content to more viewers, all while leveraging the latest technology.
For the Cubs, it’s all about the content, and it’s highly unlikely the team will settle just for a slot on local cable systems. The Cubs are one of the few MLB teams with a sizable national following, and while the team didn’t offer any specifics, it’s highly likely you’ll see Marquee Sports Network offered as a standalone streaming service. And, knowing the Cubs, you probably will be see some bundling of Marquee Sports Network as part of other high-end offerings, such as club-based season tickets. With the sale of the Fox RSNs this year (either by MLB or owners like Jim Pohlad partnering with the likes of Liberty Media) and the potential acquisition of the YES Network by the New York Yankees and a deep-pocketed partner like Amazon, MLB streaming rights and online options will probably see plenty of changes for 2020 and beyond.