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Chicago Cubs align local rights deals with new WGN-TV contract

Major League Baseball franchise the Chicago Cubs has signed a new five-year local rights deal with cable-television broadcaster WGN-TV.

The deal will commence from the 2015 season and allows Tribune Media-owned WGN-TV to broadcast 45 games annually.

WGN-TV has been the Cubs’ television home since 1948, but the team had opted out of an agreement after the 2014 season ended. This made 70 games per season available, which will now be split between WGN-TV and WLS-TV/ABC 7. The latter, a local television station owned by the ABC network, will broadcast live coverage of 25 Cubs games per year through 2019 under a deal struck last month.

The majority of the schedule will remain on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, a regional sports network in which the Cubs have a 25 per cent ownership stake.

The length of the contracts with WLS-TV/ABC 7 and WGN-TV are seen to be key, with the Cubs said to be exploring the option of launching their own regional sports network – a development that could now happen in 2020.

The Chicago Tribune newspaper said the Cubs earned about $60m (€48.4m) in broadcast rights last season between Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-TV.