Sinclair, AT&T Deal Solidifies Carriage For Cubs' New RSN
Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Cubs' partner in Marquee Sports Network, has entered into a "multiyear agreement with AT&T that ensures the Cubs' TV channel will be available on DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV when it launches in February," according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. It was "not immediately clear whether AT&T's various TV platforms would make Marquee available as part of their basic service or require purchase of an add-on tier." AT&T is the "second-largest carrier in the Cubs' territory" after Comcast's Xfinity. The Marquee deal was "part of a larger agreement between Sinclair and AT&T" that also covers: The 191 local broadcast TV stations Sinclair owns across the U.S., the Tennis Channel, the 21 former Fox-owned RSNs now controlled by Sinclair and YES Network, in which Sinclair "also owns a stake." Sinclair earlier announced another carriage agreement with Charter Communications that "included Marquee, but Charter doesn't cover nearly as much of the Cubs TV territory as AT&T" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/18).
DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH: In Chicago, Jeff Agrest notes when NBC Sports Chicago "relaunched Oct. 1 as the exclusive home for the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox," the net had "agreements with more than 50 carriers to pay for their programming." Sources said that only Dish and its streaming service, Sling, "didn't return despite being offered the same terms as the other carriers." Dish is arguing that without the Cubs, the Chicago RSN "isn't as valuable." It also said that customers who "don't watch RSNs ... shouldn't have to subsidize them for those who do." But the way NBCSCH "sees it, the channel has more live games than it ever had before, and it's enhancing its coverage of its teams." This "doesn't bode well for the Cubs airing their games on Dish." The odds "appear much better" that Comcast "will pick up Marquee" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/18).