Last month, I wrote about the Cubs exploring an over-the-top streaming option for Marquee Sports Network. (“Over-the-top” essentially means you’d be able to buy it without a cable or satellite subscription, or any other streaming service.)
A few more details on this possible arrangement are now available, per Meghan Montemurro of the Tribune, who interviewed Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney recently:
Ensuring the Marquee app is technologically strong enough to handle the service is important. Kenney envisions a DTC programming model creating an opportunity for a two-way experience. Cubs fans potentially could buy tickets or purchase merchandise before a new release sells out through the streaming service.
“There’s a bunch of different vertical businesses that you can build alongside just the video production,” Kenney said. “We want to make sure it’s as robust as it can be.”
(“DTC” means “direct to consumer.”)
One of the issues, of course, is RSN blackouts, with which a lot of you are familiar, particularly Cubs fans in Iowa, who are blacked out of six teams: Cubs, White Sox, Cardinals, Royals, Brewers and Twins. This gives me a chance to post my favorite map again!
Many people think that the blackouts’ intention is for you to go to the ballpark and buy tickets. This isn’t true. The point of the blackouts is for you to call your cable or satellite provider and tell them they should pick up the RSN that carries your favorite team. This is a 1990s business model that, in this cord-cutting age, really doesn’t work anymore. The problem is that many RSN contracts have years left — some go as late as 2030 (that’s a science fiction year, right?).
Obviously an OTT streaming option for Marquee and Cubs games would be ideal in the 2020s, when so many people watch TV via various streaming services. It’s clear the Cubs want to go in this direction and hopefully by 2023 the team can figure out a way to do so. In the meantime, fuboTV is the only streaming service currently carrying Marquee, so if you are a cord-cutter and live in the Cubs market territory (shown above), that’s your only option for Cubs games this year. If you live OUTSIDE the market territory, MLB.TV is still your choice (except for games given exclusively to ESPN, Apple TV+ or Peacock).
Unrelated, but also in Montemurro’s article:
The Cubs will have a sponsorship patch on their jerseys starting in 2023 as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Kenney said the Cubs already have been engaged with a number of partners for the sponsorship, which will be a patch affixed to the sleeve.
“Obviously, that’s hallowed ground — we’re talking about the pinstripes,” Kenney said. “So we’ll be very, very careful with the right partner presented in the right way on our jerseys.”
Kenney said they have declined past sponsor partnership opportunities, as well as certain music acts and other activities, because the Cubs didn’t believe they fit the “Friendly Confines.”
I do trust Kenney on this. He’s been very aware of Cubs history and traditions, and according to this it’s just one sleeve patch, and likely tastefully done. I’m okay with this.
A sponsor sleeve patch on Cubs jerseys as described in the article...
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