It’s called Marquee Sports Network, named after the famous red marquee on the front of the historic Wrigley Field stadium where the Cubs play home games.
The network is expect to launch in February 2020.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, who is partnering with the Cubs to launch the network, will negotiate with satellite cable providers in the Chicagoland area to gain coverage. This will likely require the operators to pay Marquee a fix fee per subscriber.
Early reports indicate that Marquee is aiming to have the network be included in most standard cable or satellite packages, such as ESPN, so the cost of cable packages could increase slightly due to do this.
It’s not clear yet if the network will be available on any streaming platforms or YouTube TV.
Most likely you’ll be out of luck. If Marquee gets its way, it sounds like they will be included in most packages and therefore the provider will either need to eat the cost or pass the cost along to all subscribers. What this means is that viewers who don’t watch Marquee will essentially be “subsidizing” the cost of its for those who do.
Not after the network launches. ABC 7’s five year deal with the Cubs expires in 2019 and WGN’s deal will also be ending after being around since 1948. Because of this, the games will no longer be available for free over the air (via antennas) but only through paid TV providers.
Select Cubs games that are part of the MLB’s deal with other broadcasters will continue to be aired on that network instead of Marquee, but this won’t save you any money if your cable provider ends up requiring you to get both Marquee and these other networks as it sounds will be the case.
Television deals for sports games are generally negotiated separately and this new deal won’t automatically cancel any radio contracts, so fans can still listen to games for free over the radio. There may be some changes, however, if any deals expire and the Cubs opt to cancel the arrangement with a station or move to another one.
From what it sounds like, no. Signs indicated that Sinclair is going to go hard and try to get the channel included in most cable packages in the region. You might be able to avoid paying for it if you subscribe to a very basic cable tier — but that typically only includes a handful of channels, so you’d be unable to watch shows on those channels too.
Unless you cancel your pay TV plan altogether, you’re going to have to live with the fact that a fairly small part of your monthly bill is essentially subsidizing the Cubs network. You can also avoid watching the channel, of course, which means you wouldn’t be counted in certain viewership data or help the network by watching commercials.
Otherwise, we advise you to think of a favorite TV network you do get and enjoy and try to convince yourself your money is really going to that channel.
You could also try contacting your TV provider over social media or writing a letter encouraging them not to carry the network, but good luck with that…
Or, maybe you could donate a few bucks a month to charity?