Chicago Cubs weighing up multicast station – report

US MLB baseball club the Chicago Cubs is considering launching a multicast television station to broadcast games currently held under the team’s local rights deal with cable-television broadcaster WGN-TV, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the Cubs are considering a multicast outlet as a means of not infringing the terms of its other local rights partnership with Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

A multicast platform is a sub-channel for local over-the-air broadcast stations. The Cubs are said to be keen to start their own network, but currently cannot do so on cable television due to the terms of their deal with CSN, which runs through 2019.

Multicast stations aren't considered cable; instead being defined as broadcast because they are transmitted over-the-air. The Tribune said this provides the Cubs with the opportunity to start a team-branded channel, with the club being responsible for production while selling and keeping all advertising revenue.

WGN-TV currently broadcasts around 70 Cubs games per season. However, in November the team exercised an option to curtail the deal after the 2014 season. The franchise’s contract with WGN-TV ran through 2022, but contained a provision to renegotiate the agreement for a five-year term after the 2014 season.

WGN-TV currently pays the Cubs around $250,000 (€184,000) per game, but is said to be losing as much as $200,000 per broadcast because of record low ratings in recent years. The Tribune said the broadcaster is keen to continue its relationship with the team and has offered a new deal that would include a small rights fee and a revenue sharing component.