The Chicago Cubs have confirmed the launch of their long-awaited regional sports network, which will begin in February 2020 in partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group.
The Marquee Sports Network will air the Cubs’ full regular-season schedule, expanded pre-game and post-game coverage, and other programming.
“We’ve been looking at this for a while,” said Crane Kenney, president of business operations for the Cubs. “We think the new network is going to give our fans unprecedented access and a richer, deeper connection to the team.”
Cubs games will continue to be seen on NBC Sports Chicago, as well as via local broadcast stations WGN and WLS, this season. Now all Cubs games and programming will be in one home.
The team must secure carriage from cable and satellite operators, as well as streaming services. “We have strong relationships with cable companies and satellite operators,” said Sinclair’s president and chief executive Chris Ripley. “That is a key function we will fill here.”
According to ESPN, the network could add a winter sport, such as college basketball, to its programming line-up.
Sinclair is believed to still be in the hunt for 21 of the 22 RSNs that Disney must sell as part of its $71.3bn Fox entertainment asset takeover.
The Cubs’ RSN promises high revenues, via subscription fees and advertising, but is not a guarantee to succeed. Many LA Dodgers fans in Southern California have been unable to watch games on SportsNet LA for five years due to an ongoing dispute over carriage fees.