Cubs Optimistic About Carriage For Marquee Network

(670 The Score) Sinclair Broadcast Group and Mediacom Communications on Wednesday reached a multi-year carriage agreement for the Marquee Sports Network, a deal that will bring Cubs games to thousands of fans in Iowa and some in parts of Illinois as well.

After that agreement, the Cubs have completed about 40 percent of their carriage goal, president of business operations Crane Kenney said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Thursday morning. Sinclair previously reached deals with AT&T, DIRECTV and Charter Communications.

Still on the Cubs' list of distributors to reach a deal with is Comcast, the largest cable provider in the Chicago area. Kenney expressed optimism about that negotiation. Without revealing the price of Marquee Sports Network, he explained that it was viewed as "reasonable" by Mediacom, DIRECTV and other providers, which makes him confident moving forward.

"Those conversations are just beginning," Kenney said of negotiations with Comcast. "We're sort of going sequentially. And most of this work, to be honest, is being led by Sinclair. They have more experience in this space than we do, and they're kind of just moving right through the market. The important part for us is this is a new business launch. We put forward what we believe it a really valuable proposition for the cable companies and satellite providers. And then you start negotiating price, what's really important about having three major carriers in Charter, Mediacom and DIRECTV agreeing to these terms is that the price that we were seeking is seen by them as reasonable. In some ways, the market has accepted the rates that we're asking for our channel.

"We would hope as we get through the rest of the distributors, given that three big ones have already come on board, they would see it the same way."

Cable and satellite subscribers will also have the option to watch Cubs games on the yet-to-be-launched Marquee Sports app, Kenney said. And for those who are cord cutters, the Cubs are in negotiations with online companies to provide streaming options.

"Hulu or Sling or Sony Vue or fubo, we're negotiating all those agreements now," Kenney said. 

The Cubs will launch the Marquee Sports Network in late February. It will be the exclusive television home of Cubs broadcasts.