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SBD/June 5, 2014/Media
As TV Deal Nears End, Cubs Eye Everything From Forming RSN To Returning To WGN
Published June 5, 2014
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DOLLARS & SENSE: WGN Radio President & GM Jimmy deCastro yesterday discussed the decision to end its 90-year relationship with the Cubs, saying while the station is "very proud of our longtime association" with the Cubs, it "has to make good business sense, and the current arrangement just does not." Appearing on WGN's "Kap & Haugh" show, deCastro said, "For more than a year, we’ve been working with the Cubs organization to try and re-craft the contract that we inherited. When Sam Zell sold the team (in '09), they did new television and new radio rights deals, and the payment for the rights to carry Cubs broadcasts have doubled since that time." He continued, "We offered them an opportunity where they could take the sales and control all the broadcasts and we would just air the games. In fact, we said we’d charge them $1 a game if they wanted to air that on our radio station, simply because we want to be able to play those games to our audience. ... We offered four or five different elements, including equity ownership in the station, and they chose, as of late (Tuesday) night, a deal with CBS which is an ‘all cash’ deal, seven-year deal with multiple millions of dollars. Just doesn’t make business sense, so we passed.” deCastro acknowledged that the Cubs' recent on-field struggles did factor into the decision. He said, "There is a little bit of connection. There has to be -- 288 losses in 2011 through 2013, 34 games already this year. When we looked at the ratings services ... they judge by meters that people actually listen to. There were several Saturdays and Sundays last year at the end of the year, we had no meters” ("Kap & Haugh," WGWG-LP, 6/4). deCastro also said, "We’ve lost a lot of money on the Cubs, and we’ve stood behind their rebuild for years. And we offered to continue to lose a lot of money in the future, but not the kind of money that CBS is going to lose." He noted, "We’re still going to be associated with the Cubs. We still think it’s going to be a big, big part of our platform. We’re still going to spring training" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/5).
INTERESTING TIMING: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan writes the "biggest day of the year for the Cubs baseball operations department arrives" with today's draft, an event it "has been focusing on for months." Sullivan: "Naturally the business operations department chose that same day to have a news conference to announce its new long-term radio deal." This is "just another example of the obvious disconnect between the two branches of the Cubs' hierarchy." President of Business Operations Crane Kenney "pretends he's the straw that stirs the drink," while President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein "stays in the background and bites his lip" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/5).