The days of watching the Cubs on TV for free are long gone.
The Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network will be exclusive to select platforms like DirecTV and Hulu.
However, the biggest player in Chicago’s broadcast field, Comcast, is not on that list.
The possibility of having to get a new cable provider has left fans unhappy. So much so, that at this year’s Cubs Convention they booed Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.
Crain’s Chicago Business reporter Danny Ecker tells us more about the network:
What platforms can we watch it with?
Games will be streamed through DirecTV and Hulu. A full list of providers is available on Marquee’s website.
What’s the controversy with Comcast?
Comcast doesn’t have a deal with the network even though it’s one of the largest cable providers in Chicago. Ecker says it’ll be a game of chicken between Comcast and the Cubs. Comcast might say the deal isn’t worth it and it’s too costly – however, it’s important for the network to sign deals with major companies like Comcast because it helps build an audience for ads, Ecker says.
On the other hand, Ecker says, the Cubs have a loyal fan base that could leave Comcast. People might be willing to cut the cord for their cable just for the Cubs.
Why are fans frustrated?
Ecker says fans are upset about having to pay more.
“Especially after a decade in which Ricketts have monetized the franchise, raising ticket prices and selling the brand in every way,” Ecker said. “There’s a fatigue among fans who feel like they’re priced out of the Cubs.
Also, it doesn’t help that the Cubs haven’t had the best season after their World Series win in 2016.
Is this the future of watching games?
Most likely no, according to Ecker. The economics of launching the network doesn’t work for all teams, like the White Sox. Many teams benefit from a regional franchise, which clumps teams and different sports together that are in the same region.