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Marquee Sports Network is now available on Chicago-area Comcast/Xfinity systems

I checked my system this morning... and there it was. Play ball!

As reported here Thursday, the Cubs’ new TV channel, Marquee Sports Network, has apparently reached an agreement with Comcast, the largest cable TV provider in the Chicago market, as of Friday morning. While there has been no official announcement by either the network or Comcast, the channel was on my Comcast/Xfinity system when I woke up just after 6 a.m. CT today:

I will update this post with comment from the Cubs, Comcast and/or Marquee when an official announcement is made, presumably later Friday.

UPDATE 1: Comcast sent out a press release announcing a “multi-year agreement” for various broadcast stations and regional sports networks. Included in the release was this from Marquee VP and general manager Mike McCarthy:

“We welcome Comcast to the Marquee family and look forward to providing their customers the very best viewing experience and commentary, as they join Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies in rooting on the Cubs pursuit of another World Series Championship.”

UPDATE 2: Here is a statement from Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney via a press release from the Cubs:

“Our goal with the launch of Marquee was to serve our fans with unparalleled Cubs content and today’s agreement with Comcast means significantly more Cubs fans will have access to it. We welcome Comcast subscribers to Marquee Sports Network.”

Comcast covers about 52 percent of the Chicago metro area, so a large number of Cubs fans who are subscribers to its service (this writer included!) can be happy this morning that not only will they be able to see tonight’s Cubs/Brewers season opener, but all future Cubs games as well as the rest of Marquee’s Cubs programming. Here’s a sample of what is on the channel — today’s broadcast schedule.

With the channel now on Comcast systems, more than 90 percent of the Cubs market territory has access to Marquee. It would make sense for the few smaller providers who have yet to agree with Marquee to do so, I’d think.

The Cubs having their own channel with all the games (save a few on national TV, and I’ll have a full schedule of those here later today) as well as much more Cubs-centric programming is new to all of us. Since the Cubs have fans all over the USA, indeed all over the world, let me explain a few things about this new channel that have caused a bit of confusion among Cubs fans.

  • If you live outside the Cubs market territory, you will watch games the same way you have in previous years — via MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings.
  • If you live outside the Cubs market territory, you won’t be able to watch Marquee’s non-game programming — for now. The channel would like eventually to sign deals to provide this programming outside of the market, and hopefully that will happen in the coming months.
  • If you are a Comcast/Xfinity subscriber INSIDE the Cubs market territory, there is no need to “sign up” for the channel. As it was for me this morning, the channel should just be there.
  • There might be a small increase in what is listed on your bill as “regional sports fee.” This varies from place to place, my monthly bill currently shows it as $8.25. What any increase is going to be remains to be seen. There is no specific charge for Marquee alone; it is just lumped into the “regional sports fee.” The last increase in Comcast’s regional sports fee in the Chicago area came in January 2019, when it went from $6.75 a month to $8.25. At the time, Comcast issued this statement regarding the increase:

We continue to make investments in our network and technology to give customers more for their money—like faster Internet service and better Wi-Fi, more video across viewing screens, better technology like X1 and xFi, and a better customer experience. While we try to hold costs down, price changes are necessary for a number of reasons, including the continually increasing costs associated with carrying the programming our customers demand, especially broadcast television and sports programming, which are the largest drivers of price increases.

For Comcast customers now getting Marquee, as always, we await developments regarding this fee.

I’m glad Marquee and Comcast came to a deal; it was likely going to go down to the wire regardless of when the 2020 season began, largely because that’s just the way these sorts of negotiations go. But I’m certainly happy I — and other Comcast subscribers in Chicago — will be able to see Cubs regular-season baseball when it begins tonight.

Play ball!