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Cubs TV Future Factors Into All Business Decisions

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Telecasting nonstop programming from Kyle Schwarber‘s tape-measure home run to Ron Santo clicking his heels after victories is a vision that runs deep in the minds of Cubs executives.

“We look forward to the day we have the rights to start our own channel,” Chairman Tom Ricketts said recently at the Cubs Convention.

But as profitably tempting as operating their own regional sports channel may be — as the Yankees can attest through the YES Network — there are many variables that have the Cubs keeping an open mind for 2020 when they can control television rights for their games.

“We’re studying it to death to look at pros and cons and weigh the risks of launching on our own or launching with a partner,” Crane Kenney, the Cubs’ business president, said.

The structuring of contracts for free agents Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist suggests the Cubs will have deeper financial pockets in 2019 and beyond, which also will allow them to retain talents such as Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell in their arbitration years.

“The money is still out there,” media analyst Jeff Kagan said. “(The Cubs) brand is recognized around the country, and now they’re viewed as winners.”

But Kenney realizes that grossing millions of dollars that can bankroll the player payroll easily doesn’t guarantee a new contract will be a success. Because of distribution issues, less than 40 percent of the Southern California audience has TV access to Dodgers games.

And the Pacific-12 Network hasn’t reached a deal with DirecTV to carry its football games for the last four seasons.

Kenney acknowledged that the Cubs are continuing to negotiate with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, in which they hold a 20 percent ownership stake. Two years ago, the Phillies and their local Comcast affiliate agreed to a 25-year, $2.5 billion contract.

“(But) as we have conversations, which are on-going with all sorts of partners, if somebody offers us something dramatically better, we’ll of course look at it,” Kenney said. “But what we control is the idea of launching our own network in 2019.”

But the biggest decision, should the Cubs choose their own network, is selecting the right business partner. The YES Network has achieved success through the 80 percent ownership backing of 21st Century Fox. The Dodgers’ 25-year, $8.35 billion contract is considered an anomaly because Time Warner has absorbed all the financial risks.

 

Kenney said the Cubs would need a two-year setup before televising games in 2020 if they choose to operate their own channel. But they won’t be rushed into making a deal soon.

“Maybe aside from changing (baseball) leadership, this is the biggest decision we’ll have,” Ricketts said. “So we have to get it right.”

To read the full article visit the Chicago Tribune where it was originally published

 

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Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football

“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”

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While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years. 

Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.

“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”

Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.

“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck. 

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Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys

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The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.

Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.

But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.

Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:

Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.

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Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”

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USA Today

Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.

The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.

Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.

“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”

Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”

He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.

Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.

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