Cubs likely to cut new TV deal with WGN; Could be revenue-sharing arrangement

My Chicago Tribune colleague, Robert Channick, has a story this morning on how it appears that the Cubs are headed for a new TV deal with WGN.

You also can access the story via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

This hardly comes as a surprise. At the end of the day, the Cubs’ options with the WGN portion of their TV package are limited because of their other deal with Comcast Sports Net Chicago.

From Channick’s story.


While the team’s long-term play is to create a regional sports network, sources say the Cubs are working on a return to WGN-Ch. 9 next season, perhaps with a reduced broadcast schedule and the potential for revenue sharing. Such a deal could require moving more games to Comcast SportsNet, the team’s cable partner.

In September, the Cubs said an announcement about the team’s broadcast plans for next season was imminent. Cubs spokesman Julian Green declined to comment Thursday. A spokesman for Tribune Media, which owns WGN-Ch. 9, also declined to comment Thursday.

But sources say the Cubs and Tribune Media appear ready to play ball after a trial separation failed to produce viable short-term alternatives, though they caution the long-awaited announcement may still take some time.


A number of plans are being discussed, including the possibility of moving some portion of the TV schedule over to CSN, in which the Cubs have an equity stake. Such a move would require approval from the other teams partnered in the regional sports network, including White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, but discussions are taking place, according to sources.

A Comcast spokesman declined to comment Thursday.

For TV games on WGN, a revenue-sharing deal may be in the works, according to sources, giving the team revenue upside while limiting Tribune Media’s risk. Any deal would extend only so far as 2019. Such a deal also would likely include an out clause should the Cubs be able to strike a long-term deal sooner.



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