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Chicago Cubs Reportedly in Talks With Sinclair to Launch Streaming Service

According to the New York Post, the Cubs and Sinclair are talking about a subscription costing $18 per month.

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While Sinclair Broadcast Group works on plans to launch a direct-to-consumer service with its 21 regional sports networks (currently branded as Bally Sports Regional Networks), the telecommunciations conglomerate is also reportedly pursuing a deal with the Chicago Cubs to launch a standalone streaming service.

According to the New York Post, the Cubs are in talks with Sinclair to develop a streaming outlet for fans who don’t have a cable or satellite service subscription. And these discussions are taking place over the objections of Major League Baseball.

Presumably, this would be a streaming version of Marquee Sports Network, of which the Cubs and Sinclair each own a 50-50 share. That would probably interest Cubs fans without a cable or satellite subscription who don’t want to watch other MLB teams. Fans of those other MLB clubs — and the teams themselves — might then attempt to pursue their own deals.

A standalone service with the Cubs could also be a hedge against Sinclair not being able to reach agreements with each of the 14 MLB teams currently under the Bally Sports banner. Despite having distribution deals with those 14 clubs, only four of them — the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, and Milwaukee Brewers — have agreed to be part of a Sinclair streaming service.

Interestingly, MLB apparently had plans to try team-specific streaming services itself. The Post reports that the league wanted to test its own streaming service with the Detroit Tigers. But the Tigers eventually signed a new rights deal with Sinclair, ending any plans with MLB.

Another obstacle — or likely objection from potential subscribers — could be the reported monthly fee for the Cubs streaming service. According to the Post, the Cubs and Sinclair are talking about a subscription costing $18 per month. MLB is also concerned that such a rate could be too high and turn off many fans.

That price is more than what Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+ charge per month. Yet it’s also what a team-specific package costs on NBA League Pass.

Additionally, Sinclair is reportedly considering a $20 monthly fee for its RSN streaming service. Would Cubs fans be willing to pay two dollars less for a standalone service or just pay two extra bucks to get 13 other MLB teams, in addition to NBA and NHL coverage, if Sinclair is able to launch that service?

But MLB’s reluctance to move ahead with getting each of those 14 clubs on Sinclair’s streaming service is reportedly frustrating the company, which is why it’s pursuing a separate arrangement with the Cubs.

By owning (or half-owning) their own network, the Cubs are in a better position to launch a service like this than a team which needs to broadcast its games with a regional sports network like Bally Sports. Plus, the popularity of the Cubs could carry a standalone service, unlike some other MLB clubs.

Marquee Sports Network wouldn’t confirm or deny the report when contacted by the Post, nor would Sinclair or MLB.

“We’re always exploring options,” Michael McCarthy, general manager of Marquee Sports, told the Post’s Josh Kosman. “There is nothing definite to announce.”

Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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ESPN Assigns Broadcast Teams for MLB Wild Card Round

In preparation for the postseason, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

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There are just a few games left in the MLB season and the postseason begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. In preparation, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

Andrew Marchand reports that the team assigned to the presumptive New York Mets Wild Card series will be Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez. The Mets still mathematically can win the NL East but they trail the Braves by two games with three to play.

He also reports that the St. Louis Wild Card series will be called by Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland series will be broadcast by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville while the Toronto series will be called by Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.

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Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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