WGN-AM Reopens Cubs' Radio Deal Due To High Cost, Plummeting Ratings
WGN-AM is exercising an option to reopen its radio contract with the Cubs because it is "strapped with an expensive rights deal and sharply declining ratings" due to the team's struggles on the field, according to Ed Sherman of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Sources said that WGN is "losing significant money on the Cubs broadcasts, with listeners and advertisers tuning out a team that has lost 197 games in the last two years." Cubs games still will air on the station in '14, but "beyond that, the two sides will have to agree on a new deal." WGN President & GM Jimmy de Castro said, "The contract calls for us to take a look at it and we're going to do that." Sources said that the current contract calls for WGN to pay as much as $10M a year to the Cubs, "making it one of the most expensive" radio deals in MLB. The Cubs "don't appear to have much leverage if they want to shop their games in the market, which now is an option for them." WGN probably is the "only radio choice for the Cubs," and it is "quite possible that a reworked deal could be tied into a new TV deal with Tribune Co." to keep some Cubs games on WGN-TV (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/17).