Cubs Officials Say Team Will Begin Renegotiating Broadcast Rights With WGN-TV
Cubs officials yesterday confirmed that the team "plans to begin renegotiating its broadcast rights agreement with WGN-TV, putting nearly half of its televised games in play after the 2014 season and opening the door to a potentially imminent payday that could help fund proposed Wrigley Field renovations," according to Robert Channick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The Cubs and WGN have a broadcast partnership that "dates to 1948." Due to rights deals with WGN and Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the club "couldn't create their own cable channel until 2020." Sources estimate that those deals earn the club about $60M "in annual broadcast rights fees combined." The Cubs' deal with CSN Chicago "runs through 2019." The team gets about $20M million "to air 70 games each year on WGN." They have "decided to exercise a renegotiation option with the Tribune Co.-owned station, seeking to boost those revenues for the 2015 season and beyond." WGN will "have a chance to retain those rights, but other media players are likely to get a shot as well." Based on the $60M revenue fee for combined broadcast rights, the Cubs "get about $400,000 per game, far below the market value potentially set by the Dodgers." Under the Dodgers' new deal with Time Warner Cable, the club will be getting about $280M per year, or about $1.8M per game. For the Cubs, who are "looking to offset" a proposed $300M renovation of Wrigley Field "with some new outfield billboards, the broadcast rights issue is a significant opportunity" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/19).