The Cubs opted out of their WGN-TV deal that originally was scheduled to run through 2019, and it ended with the final game of the 2014 season.
But that raised the question: where would these games go? In 2014, 70 games were televised on WGN-TV and WGN America. WGNA has made it clear that they're getting out of the sports business and want to become a basic-cable network like TBS, TNT and others.
So where were these games going to go? They couldn't go to a cable provider other than CSN Chicago, which is 20 percent owned by the Cubs (four other entities also own 20 percent: the White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks and NBC Universal). The rest would have to go to an over-the-air broadcast channel.Now, there are reports that most of those games are headed to WGN-TV:
From a solid source: Cubs in serious talks,deal nearly final, to put 45 games on WGN-9, local only,for 2015. Fate of other 15 games unclear.— Matt Spiegel (@MattSpiegel670) December 11, 2014
More from source on Cubs TV: Remaining 15 games could end up part of WGN-TV deal,or may end up as one-offs for other channels such as The U.— Matt Spiegel (@MattSpiegel670) December 11, 2014
That's a total of 60 games, which means it's likely that 10 games will be added to the CSN schedule. In 2014, CSN Chicago carried 80 games, as noted here. This will become possible since CSN Chicago has now added a second full-time channel (seen in Chicago on Comcast systems as channel 201).
What it means for those of you who have watched Cubs baseball outside of Chicago on WGN America is that you'll have to sign up for MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings to watch the games you formerly saw on WGNA through your regular cable subscription. This will cost you, obviously, but you should have access to the games -- unless you're in the usual Cubs blackout areas, where it's possible you'll be blacked out of games you used to get on WGNA. It's not yet clear how a proposal to allow people who stream live games through the MLB At Bat app on mobile devices to be able to watch games in local markets would affect people in the blackout areas, and as noted it's still just a proposal, not official.
But this news, if true, removes the possibility that came up the other day, where it seemed possible that some Cubs games wouldn't be televised at all, something that hasn't been the case since the early 1980s, when about 20 games a year were left off the WGN-TV schedule.
We'll have more details later, obviously, but if this happens the Cubs should have about 90 games on CSN Chicago, about 45 to 60 on WGN-TV (local broadcast channel only), and the other 12 on national networks Fox and ESPN.