You've heard for quite some time that the Cubs and WGN-TV (locally in Chicago only) were going to continue a relationship that dates back to 1948 for another five years, through 2019. No other professional sports team has been carried on one television station for so long, and even though it will certainly end after 2019, we've got five more years to watch games on Channel 9 in Chicago.
The Cubs' press release contained this new bit of information:
As part of the new agreement, broadcasters Jim Deshaies and Len Kasper will become employees of the Chicago Cubs after previously being employed through WGN-TV.
That's important because the Cubs have long been rumored to want to start their own TV channel once all their TV rights come up for bid after the 2019 season. With Len and JD as Cubs employees, that possibility seems even more likely to come to pass.
The release contained the usual quotes from executives so I pass them along to you.
“Cubs fans have grown accustomed to watching Cubs baseball on WGN since 1948, so we are pleased to continue this longstanding tradition through our new broadcast agreement,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney. “We are very excited to begin a new chapter of Cubs baseball with WGN and welcome Jim Deshaies and Len Kasper, two of the best broadcasters in the business, as teammates in our organization.”
“We’re pleased to enter into this new agreement, which continues our longstanding, historic partnership with the Cubs and we’re looking forward to some great baseball,” said Larry Wert, President of Broadcast Media for Tribune Media. “The positive moves made by the Cubs, including the hiring of Joe Maddon, the signing of Jon Lester, and the club’s investment in Wrigleyville will be great for our city. We believe in the Cubs and the Ricketts family, and we look forward to growing the fan base even further for both the Cubs and WGN-TV.”
As a refresher, here's where you will see Cubs games on television each season for the next five years:
- 80 games on CSN Chicago
- 45 games on WGN-TV
- 25 games on WLS-ABC7 Chicago
- Approximately 10-12 games a year on national networks Fox and ESPN
What we still don't know is whether the 70 games that have been assigned to local Chicago broadcast channels will be available to people who live in the Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin blackout areas. Unless those games are sold to individual channels or digital subchannels in markets outside the Chicago metro area, those of you who live in the blackout areas are going to be out of luck. Unless that happens, even if you pay for MLB.TV or Extra Innings, you'd be blacked out.
I've reached out to the Cubs for comment on this and will report back if I hear anything.