This article isn't being written because there's any news on the Cubs' TV deal front. In fact, there certainly is not. President of Business Operations Crane Kenney stated at the season-ticket holder event last Friday that he "hoped" to have a deal in place by the end of the year -- still more than two months away.
It's not that the Cubs could be leaving WGN-TV; that ship long ago sailed. It's that the Cubs have always been in the forefront of having their games on television in the first place. They were televising the entire home schedule at the dawn of the medium in 1948, at a time when most owners feared that doing so would hurt attendance. Not only did it not do that, but as you know, televising Cubs home games helped create interest in the team and several generations' worth of fans.
The Cubs have also televised nearly their entire schedule every year since 1967, when the White Sox split away from WGN. That year, more than 140 games were televised, far more than any other team was doing in those days, and all games have been on TV since the 1980s.
Cubs games in 2015 will be televised. Somewhere. It's still a bit unsettling to not know where, when we are just 173 days, less than six months, away from the next game at Wrigley Field, April 6, 2015 against the Cardinals.
The Tribune's Phil Rosenthal has a summary of everything that's gone on so far regarding the Cubs' TV deal, but I wanted to call your particular attention to two passages in his article (which is behind a paywall).
First, that the opt-out was done, in part, to try to set up the team for 2020, when they can sell all their games in one package, but:
One hint the Cubs may not be getting the TV reception they anticipate in 2020 is that the club is six months removed from opening the 2015 season, and it hasn't got a local broadcast outlet lined up yet to complement the majority of its telecasts assigned to CSN Chicago, which it partly owns.
And, that there are already clues that the TV rights big money bubble might be bursting:
The broadcast TV deal is just a place holder for the Cubs, however. The big money, they think, is in getting their own channel. But with Time Warner eating hundreds of millions of dollars on Year One of its Los Angeles Dodgers deal because no other cable or satellite operator was willing to support the absurdly high amount of money it promised the ballclub with astronomic monthly fees per subscriber, whether that household watched baseball games or not.
Every team's situation is different and the Chicago TV market isn't comparable to the Los Angeles market, but you'd think if bigger money was out there than what the Cubs opted out of with their WGN-TV deal, they'd have an agreement in place already, and obviously, they don't.
So, we await developments as always, and the end result could be that the Cubs might not be able to get as much money from these TV rights as they had hoped.