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Cubs confirm plans for regional sports network

Major League Baseball franchise the Chicago Cubs has confirmed it will launch its own regional sports network in 2020, adding that it could partner with another team in the venture.

The Cubs made the announcement at their annual fan convention on Saturday, with the prospect of a network having long been mooted. President of business operations, Crane Kenney, said the network aims to launch in time for spring training in 2020, adding that the team is currently in talks with a media partner for the project.

“We have a really good sense of who our partner is,” Kenney said, according to MLB.com. “Our transaction is a little bit (complicated). We’re involved in a multi-dimensional negotiation. It’s not just us and a partner. It’s us, our partner and multiple others, so there’s just some moving pieces. There might be other teams involved. Not local teams.”

The Cubs’ local rights deals with NBC Sports Chicago, ABC-7 and WGN-9 are due to expire following the 2019 season.

Earlier this month, NBC Sports Chicago, the regional NBC-Comcast sports channel, signed new, multi-year rights deals with the White Sox MLB team, the Bulls NBA basketball team and the Blackhawks NHL ice hockey team. The agreements notably omitted the Cubs, further fuelling talk of the franchise’s plans for its own network.

Kenney said more information is set to be disclosed within the next month, with ‘Marquee’ rumoured to be the name of the channel.

Kenney added: “We’ve got a seat at a much larger table, so we’ve been involved in conversations not locally, but more nationally, on how we’ll launch our channel and who we’ll launch it with.

“So, I would say at the moment, I don’t have anything else to say about it other than you’ll have a Cubs channel. It will launch in 2020. We will do it with a strategic partner. And the details of that will be more apparent in probably the next 30 days.”

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