Sources: Cubs To Go Own Way In TV Venture

The Cubs are pulling away from a partnership with NBC Sports Chicago and others.

Bruce Levine
August 27, 2018 - 4:20 pm
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The Cubs will pull away from their partnership with NBC Sports Chicago -- as well as the White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks -- and start their own television venture in October 2019, according to industry sources. 

The Cubs have hired Mike McCarthy to lead the television venture moving forward, sources said. McCarthy was previously the president of the MSG Network and the CEO of the St. Louis Blues.

The NBC Sports Group and the aforementioned four teams each have a 20 percent stake in NBC Sports Chicago. The current deal between the five partners ends in October 2019. As the Cubs ready to go their own way, the White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks have hired Phil Bedella to help run their next regional sports network. Bedella was the former general manager of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

The four teams and Comcast SportsNet formed a partnership in 2004, putting an abundance of games on cable. Those cable broadcasts brought more than three times the amount of revenue for each team on a per-game basis than their deals with WGN and other over-the-air carriers did. 

For example, the Cubs and White Sox will receive $750,000 per game for the broadcasts they have on cable in 2019, sources said. The WGN and ABC deals pay around $200,000 per game, sources said.

In the ever changing world of cable TV and with streaming platforms now a key part of new media, the monetization of games has become more difficult to project for sports teams and entertainment companies. The Cubs are still contemplating bringing in a carrier to oversee the production for their own regional network or possibly going it alone by producing and selling their own product. The likes of Disney and NBC Sports as well as other big media companies are interested in a partnership with the Cubs, sources said.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.​