Wednesday afternoon, the Cubs announced that the Marquee Network had signed a deal for coverage on suburban Chicago carrier WOW! (And yes, the capitalization and exclamation point is how that company identifies itself.)
Thursday morning, Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney appeared on 670 The Score to give further updates on the status of Marquee’s talks with other carriers — especially Comcast/Xfinity, the largest carrier in the Chicago metro area.
Kenney said — and you probably could have guessed this — that they’re spending a great deal of time negotiating deals with various providers. He noted that WOW! is the fourth-largest provider in the Chicago area.
Regarding Comcast, the story was the same one we’ve heard for several weeks. Marquee and the Cubs continue to have conversations. The Cubs have offered the same deal to Comcast that they have to other carriers, and since others have signed up, Kenney feels that “validates” what they are offering, and still hopes to get them signed up by Opening Day.
My feeling on that? There’s posturing going on, on both sides. The Cubs know they need Comcast, who provides service to more than 50 percent of the market (including this writer’s service!). Comcast knows it might hurt their business if they don’t sign the Cubs up. Maybe it takes till Opening Day, but I think they will. There were reports from some readers here who heard it might take longer than that. Let’s hope not.
What will I do personally for road games (since I’m at all the home games)? I haven’t figured that out yet. I’ve got four weeks.
There are a lot of you who have YouTube TV and want that provider to sign up with Marquee. Kenney said he was “less certain” about YouTube TV than with Comcast, primarily because “they look differently at the market.” Precisely what that means, I am not sure. For those of you who have YouTube TV as your streaming TV option, I hope they and the Cubs will make a deal.
Kenney noted that actual carriage of the Marquee Network is up to individual providers. Once they sign a deal, it’s out of Marquee’s hands. Some of you have had trouble getting the channel even though your provider has signed a deal. That’s one of the “glitches” that should be resolved by Opening Day. For more on this and other information on exactly how Marquee and its coverage area work, check out the article I wrote on this topic here on Monday.
Lastly, as I noted in that article, Kenney reiterated that the team will do its best to sell Marquee’s non-game coverage outside the Cubs market territory. To be clear: The Cubs can only show games on Marquee inside the territory. If you live outside the Cubs market territory shown here:
... you will have to watch games on MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings, as you have in the past, and at least for now you won’t be able to see Marquee’s non-game programming. Some of that programming will possibly wind up on the Cubs’ YouTube channel. Which is different from YouTube TV. Confusing, I know.
In the end, Kenney was simply summing up on 670 The Score what we already know. Deals are being worked on. Comcast is the most important one. They’ve got four weeks. As I have in the past, I counsel patience.