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View Full Version : Tribune: Cubs May Dump WGN After 2014 Season


PaleHoser
02-17-2013, 10:18 PM
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-ricketts-2013-20130217,0,5071485.story

I don't believe a word of this.

doublem23
02-17-2013, 10:26 PM
I don't believe a word of this.

I really don't see why you wouldn't.

Red Barchetta
02-18-2013, 07:40 AM
"Spreading the gospel of Cubs baseball" - Ain't that the truth! :rolleyes:

Amazing how they continue to market their legendary franchise.

Viva Medias B's
02-18-2013, 08:03 AM
The reason TribCo bought the Cubs from the Wrigley family in 1981 was so that it could keep the Cubs on WGN Television and WGN Radio. If they left WGN, where would their terrestrial television games (those not on CSN) go?

Do we know the current status of the Sox TV rights?

tebman
02-18-2013, 09:13 AM
Where else are they going to go? Sure, they could start their own cable network but filling 24 hours all year long with programs is a tall order.

My guess is that they end up working out a deal for more money from WGN radio and WGN-TV. Ricketts already owns a chunk of the CSN channel and the other partners (like the White Sox) aren't likely to sell out to give the Cubs a bigger share.

Steelrod
02-18-2013, 09:29 AM
It's how they negotiate.
First they threatened Daley, then Mesa, then Emanual, now WGN.

Golden Sox
02-18-2013, 09:48 AM
I was told that the bad guys on the Northside can't go to another cable station until there contract expires with Comcast after the 2019 season. That being the case I would think they would extend there contract with WGN through the 2019 season. I've been told the White Sox get $500,000 per game from Comcast. I don't know what they get from Channel 9 and Channel 26.

Irishsox1
02-18-2013, 09:49 AM
The Cubs should start their own network! In the off season they could show classic Cubs losses and re-runs of Small Wonder.

JoeyCora28
02-18-2013, 11:28 AM
The Cubs should start their own network! In the off season they could show classic Cubs losses and re-runs of Small Wonder.


And how does this differ from what they would show DURING the season?

Lip Man 1
02-18-2013, 12:05 PM
Postering on the part of ownership to try to get the best deal possible.

Anything is possible but my own opinion is the Cubs leaving WGN is unlikely.

We'll see.

Lip

johnnyg83
02-18-2013, 12:16 PM
The Cubs should start their own network! In the off season they could show classic Cubs losses and re-runs of Small Wonder.

Not a day goes by I don't think of Jerry Suprian and how he threw away all his God-given talent.

siugrad25
02-18-2013, 01:11 PM
Lip,

Is it possible for the Cubs to create their own network and "share" some games with WGN? I trust your opinion on this topic, but with the Cubs trying to turn the area around Wrigley to even more of a carnival atmosphere and pending $300 million ballpark renovations, wouldn't a Cubs-only network seem like the next step for the franchise?


Postering on the part of ownership to try to get the best deal possible.

Anything is possible but my own opinion is the Cubs leaving WGN is unlikely.

We'll see.

Lip

FielderJones
02-18-2013, 01:25 PM
One thing lost in this discussion is the current state of the Tribune Company. It's no longer the pre-Zell monolith of Chicago media. Creditors want to get paid, and the possibility that the company will be broken into salable parts is real.

roylestillman
02-18-2013, 02:00 PM
This is a fascinating time for both clubs and their TV rights. What the Cubs do may open up opportunities for the Sox or crowd them out. My bet is that the Cubs may choose to try and buy their way out of he CSN ownership and remaining years of the contract. They will then attempt to form their own network with a partner, as was done with the Dodgers, and leave WGN after 2014. The busses from Iowa don't mean a thing compared to the money that the Cubchannel could drag in.

The Sox remaining with CSN is still strong with the Bulls and the Hawks filling programming and maintaining a strong package to sell to cable operators. The trouble for maximizing revenue is that the gorilla in the room is Comcast, which would mean trying to cut a deal with their corporate partner. Don't know if the Sox would want to increase their presence on WGN, but they may be able to squeeze more cash out of them to make WGN America viable.

Lip Man 1
02-18-2013, 02:12 PM
Slug:

According to Sully's story in the Tribune today, the Cubs are looking at that possibility (and Bob Grim of the Sox told me when I interviewed him that he doesn't personally know of the Sox thinking along those lines but that he's sure it has probably at least been breached).

The problem for either team is going to be lining up enough cable systems to put the channel on their lineup and I'm assuming it would go into a higher costing tier, which could also be a major issue in this economy.

Then the other issue is programming. What can the Cubs get? Even YES does things like run movies, talk shows, infomercials because they can't fill 365 days a year, 24 hours a day with just the Yankees and Nets.

Remember JR owns the Bulls and has a great relationship with the Wirtz family, they built the United Center together. Assuming those two franchises don't come on board what would the Cubs be left with? The Fire???

One thing is for sure today in baseball...as the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels and now Dodgers are showing, TV money drives the bus. If you don't have a deal, or can't get a deal literally bringing you millions and millions and millions of dollars a year, just for TV, you are royally screwed.

Both the Sox and Cubs are going to do everything and anything they can to leverage every nickle they possibly can out of the Chicago market in the next deal.

Lip

kba
02-18-2013, 02:21 PM
One thing to watch is how Tribune Co. decides to position WGN America. If they keep the channel as-is, they desperately need the Cubs broadcasts. The Cubs -- and to a lesser extent the Sox and Bulls -- are among the few things that attract a national audience and keep the channel on cable systems outside of the Midwest.

On the other hand, there have been rumors that Tribune's new owners want to remake WGN America in the mold of TBS, with more original programming. In that case, they may want to shed the Chicago identity and drop the Cubs and Sox games, just as TBS dropped the Braves.

roylestillman
02-18-2013, 02:41 PM
The other point here is that these single team cable channel's economics are based pretty much on cable systems staying with package pricing. If a la carte pricing becomes law, as I suspect it might, we are back to the Sportsvision model that didn't work so well.

Lip Man 1
02-18-2013, 02:47 PM
KBA:

WTBS Superstation dropped the Braves because MLB told them if they did, they could get involved in broadcasting the sport from a national perspective (Game of the Week) as well as become a part of the postseason coverage. TBS bid enough to become part of the broadcasting operation after getting the message from MLB.

I suspect though that if they didn't bid enough to get part of the package they would have continued broadcasting the Braves games since that was an essential part of their programming.

WGN America is in the same position and since they probably aren't going to get involved from a national sense they need sports programming of a "local" variety.

Lip

WhiffleBall
02-18-2013, 03:18 PM
If the cubs could somehow figure out a way to have a dedicated channel partnership with the Bears then it would work. While the channel would probably never show a live Bears game, if they had full access to all things Bears (besides the actual games) then that would be more than enough to get them through late baseball season to spring training.

kba
02-18-2013, 03:19 PM
KBA:

WGN America is in the same position and since they probably aren't going to get involved from a national sense they need sports programming of a "local" variety.



The question is whether the new management at Tribune Co. sees sports programming as valuable and worth paying a big price for. The new CEO is a former head of FX and OWN (Oprah's network), so there's speculation in the industry that he want to remake WGN America into some kind of specialty channel with more original programming -- maybe all dramas, all talk shows, all reality shows, or whatever. Whether Chicago-centric sports broadcasts fit into that vision is an open question.

It's clear that what WGN America is doing now isn't working. It ranks 40th in the ratings among cable networks. TBS and FX are in the top 5.

thomas35forever
02-18-2013, 04:37 PM
I just don't see it. WGN always gets big ratings for Cubs games and I doubt they'll want to see that moneymaker slip away. They'll fork up whatever it takes to keep them on. Then again, they weren't interested in keeping Bozo on the air, so I also wouldn't put it past them to wave the white flag.

Lip Man 1
02-18-2013, 04:37 PM
Considering most of their programming right now at night consists of 10 year old reruns of America's Funniest Videos, I can see why they are 40th.

To me, just my opinion, all the more reason to go back to the past when basically ALL WGN did was show sports as often as possible at night in the 60's and 70's, Cubs, Bulls, DePaul, Hawks (road games), and other college teams through the Hughes Television Network package.

We'll see how it all shakes out.

Lip

Lamp81
02-18-2013, 07:41 PM
As long as WGN America keeps showing local Chicago sports, I can't see why the Cubs would want to leave the WGN TV family.

The Cubs depend on out of market tourists coming in each summer to fill Wrigley Field. If WGN America doesn't broadcast those games across the country, the Cubs lose out on free marketing of the Ballpark. I couldn't find a 2013 TV schedule for the Cubs, but I wonder, does WGN show more home games then away games? Do the Cubs steer their home games onto WGN, so as to feature Wrigley Field?

They really have to take that into account if another local station like a WCIU26 or WPWR50 were to outbid WGN for broadcast rights. The Sox, would probably take a higher bid from WCIU or WPWR, as they don't rely on WGN America to fill their park. Although, when on vacation, most hotels do carry WGN, and I usually get to see at least 1 Sox game, mmostly Saturday nights.

Mr. Jinx
02-18-2013, 08:25 PM
As long as WGN America keeps showing local Chicago sports, I can't see why the Cubs would want to leave the WGN TV family.

The Cubs depend on out of market tourists coming in each summer to fill Wrigley Field. If WGN America doesn't broadcast those games across the country, the Cubs lose out on free marketing of the Ballpark. I couldn't find a 2013 TV schedule for the Cubs, but I wonder, does WGN show more home games then away games? Do the Cubs steer their home games onto WGN, so as to feture Wrigley Field?

They really have to take that into account if another local station like a WCIU26 or WPWR50 were to outbid WGN for broadcast rights. The Sox, would probably take a higher bid from WCIU or WPWR, as they don't rely on WGN America to fill their park. Although, when on vacation, most hotels do carry WGN, and I usually get to see at least 1 Sox game, mmostly Saturday nights.

I don't think that is all that relevant anymore. The Red Sox don't have a national network like that but I'm sure they don't have problems promoting their ballpark as a tourist destination. With the proliferation of games on ESPN, MLB Network, TBS, and Fox, the Cubs will have plenty of games on national TV.

TDog
02-18-2013, 08:36 PM
I don't think that is all that relevant anymore. The Red Sox don't have a national network like that but I'm sure they don't have problems promoting their ballpark as a tourist destination. With the proliferation of games on ESPN, MLB Network, TBS, and Fox, the Cubs will have plenty of games on national TV.

About a decade ago, I was in a pub in Dublin talking sports with a man from Liverpool who was saying that anyone can play golf at St. Andrews, which would be like playing football at Wembley Stadium or (knowning I was an American) baseball at Wrigley Field. He didn't watch WGN.

Hitmen77
02-18-2013, 09:23 PM
As long as WGN America keeps showing local Chicago sports, I can't see why the Cubs would want to leave the WGN TV family.

The Cubs depend on out of market tourists coming in each summer to fill Wrigley Field. If WGN America doesn't broadcast those games across the country, the Cubs lose out on free marketing of the Ballpark. I couldn't find a 2013 TV schedule for the Cubs, but I wonder, does WGN show more home games then away games? Do the Cubs steer their home games onto WGN, so as to feture Wrigley Field?

They really have to take that into account if another local station like a WCIU26 or WPWR50 were to outbid WGN for broadcast rights. The Sox, would probably take a higher bid from WCIU or WPWR, as they don't rely on WGN America to fill their park. Although, when on vacation, most hotels do carry WGN, and I usually get to see at least 1 Sox game, mmostly Saturday nights.

If the Cubs were to leave WGN, it wouldn't be for another local over the air station. It would be to start their own regional sports network and put all their games on that channel similar to the blockbuster deal the Dodgers just signed.

I'm not saying I think the Cubs are leaving WGN in 2014 - but if and when they ever do, it won't be to another local broadcast channel.


I don't think that is all that relevant anymore. The Red Sox don't have a national network like that but I'm sure they don't have problems promoting their ballpark as a tourist destination. With the proliferation of games on ESPN, MLB Network, TBS, and Fox, the Cubs will have plenty of games on national TV.

....and don't forget the proliferation of MLB.tv. Anyone out of town who wanted to follow the Cubs (or any other team) wouldn't have to pay all that much to get every game on MLB.tv.

slavko
02-18-2013, 09:35 PM
It's how they negotiate.
First they threatened Daley, then Mesa, then Emanual, now WGN.

They also held Zell's feet to the fire by imposing new conditions just before the Cubs sale was about to close. So they're not all bad. It's How Business Is Done.

Lamp81
02-18-2013, 10:40 PM
If the Cubs were to leave WGN, it wouldn't be for another local over the air station. It would be to start their own regional sports network and put all their games on that channel similar to the blockbuster deal the Dodgers just signed.

I'm not saying I think the Cubs are leaving WGN in 2014 - but if and when they ever do, it won't be to another local broadcast channel.




....and don't forget the proliferation of MLB.tv. Anyone out of town who wanted to follow the Cubs (or any other team) wouldn't have to pay all that much to get every game on MLB.tv.

But the time frame in question is 2015-2019, as the WGN TV deal will have expired after 2014 but their Comcast deal keeps them from having their own cable/satellite channel until 2020, at the earliest.

They would either need to move all games to CSN or sign another deal for OTA games, whether with WGN or another OTA station. I still think the side benefit of WGN America is too strong to throw that away.

DSpivack
02-18-2013, 11:21 PM
But the time frame in question is 2015-2019, as the WGN TV deal will have expired after 2014 but their Comcast deal keeps them from having their own cable/satellite channel until 2020, at the earliest.

They would either need to move all games to CSN or sign another deal for OTA games, whether with WGN or another OTA station. I still think the side benefit of WGN America is too strong to throw that away.

I'm not sure why that free marketing of the ballpark matters all that much anymore. The big money is in the TV contracts.

Lamp81
02-18-2013, 11:34 PM
I'm not sure why that free marketing of the ballpark matters all that much anymore. The big money is in the TV contracts.

But the Cubs, and I assume the Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks will not see any of that money until 2020, when the current CSN deal expires. I am assuming all 4 teams are under the same contract length, as they are all co-owners.

BTW, are the Sox and Bulls owned by the same company and/or partnerships, or is it that Jerry Reinsdorf is chairman of two completely seperate ownership groups.

DSpivack
02-18-2013, 11:50 PM
But the Cubs, and I assume the Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks will not see any of that money until 2020, when the current CSN deal expires. I am assuming all 4 teams are under the same contract length, as they are all co-owners.

BTW, are the Sox and Bulls owned by the same company and/or partnerships, or is it that Jerry Reinsdorf is chairman of two completely seperate ownership groups.

The latter.

The Bulls list their Board of Directors in a PDF from last season's media guide:

http://www.nba.com/bulls/history/201112-chicago-bulls-media-guide.html

The White Sox list it on their web site:

http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/team/front_office.jsp?c_id=cws

Perhaps those who know more than I can qualify the differences beyond that.

doublem23
02-19-2013, 12:24 PM
Another piece in today's Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0219-cubs-20130219,0,7523734.story