SBD/June 4, 2014/Media

Sources: Cubs Set To Depart WGN-AM After 90 Years For CBS Radio's WBBM

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The Cubs are set to announce WBBM-AM "as the team's new flagship radio partner," as the station has "signed a long-term deal" to carry the team’s games beginning next season, according to sources cited by Robert Channick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources said that it also "involves promotion with other CBS Radio stations in Chicago." Sources said that the team is "expected to announce" the deal tomorrow. The move to CBS Radio "marks the end of a 90-year relationship with WGN-AM." The previous deal was valued at $10M, and sources said that WGN "had the right to match the new CBS offer, but chose not to." Sources added that the current Cubs play-by-play team of Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer "will move with the Cubs to WBBM" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/4). Chicago-based media reporter Robert Feder cited sources as saying that the Cubs "could move" to CBS Radio's WSCR-AM if the station "loses the White Sox broadcast rights after next year." WBBM "already is the top-billing station in the market," but the addition of the Cubs "is expected to boost the station's share of revenue and widen its first-place margin." The deal made by former Cubs Owner Sam Zell when he sold the team Tom Ricketts in '09 "has been a financial disaster for WGN." Some estimates show that WGN "has lost" $6M a year during the current deal. WGN President & GM Jimmy deCastro: "The economics of the deal that we inherited did not make business sense." Among deCastro's proposals to "keep the Cubs on WGN were a variety of rights arrangements, revenue-sharing deals on top of guarantees, and even a plan that would have given the Cubs ownership in the station." But Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney and other team execs "went strictly by the numbers, and WGN chose to waive its right to match CBS Radio’s seven-year cash offer" (ROBERTFEDER.com, 6/3).
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