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Cubs TV Future Factors Into All Business Decisions



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


Sports TV News

Warriors Fans Throw Objects At Charles Barkley On Inside the NBA Set

“Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.”



TNT/Larry Brown Sports

Charles Barkley is no stranger to being the object of fans’ ire. The cities of San Antonio and Cleveland have a history of being the butt of the Round Mound of Rebound’s jokes. Thursday night in San Francisco, fans of the Warriors took things to a different level, throwing objects at Barkley on the Inside the NBA set.

The TNT studio show was broadcasting live from outside the Chase Center. The crowd chanted “Chuck, you suck!” at Barkley before the game. After Golden State clinched a birth in the NBA Finals, things got physical.

Fans threw things at the set, including a rolled-up t-shirt, which hit Charles Barkley in the back of the head. That resulted in Barkley leaving his seat and bowing up to the audience.

“Come on Chuck!” Ernie Johnson pleaded as Kenny Smith repeatedly said “Sit down Chuck.”

Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.

Now that the Western Conference Finals are over, TNT’s NBA schedule has concluded. That doesn’t mean Charles Barkley won’t return to San Francisco for the NBA Finals, but it is highly unlikely given the reception he has received there.

Barkley spent most of the postseason telling Golden State fans they were annoying and need to shut up and saying the city of San Francisco has “dirty ass streets”.

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Sports TV News

Jon Miller To Call MLB Sunday Leadoff Game On Peacock

“According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict.”



Rich Eisen Show

Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller will be returning to the national broadcast booth on Sunday. He will call the San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds game for Peacock. He’ll be joined in the booth by Barry Larkin and Shawn Estes.

According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict. Benetti, the regular play-by-play voice of Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff, is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago has prioritized this weekend’s series between the White Sox and Cubs, making Benetti unavailable to the national broadcast.

Miller has been calling Giants games since 1997 and previously shared the Sunday Night Baseball booth on ESPN with hall of famer Joe Morgan.

The broadcast, called MLB Sunday Leadoff, will begin at 11 a.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Ahmed Fareed. The game broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m.

The game will take place in an exclusive two-hour broadcast window prior to the start of the rest of the league’s day of games.

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Sports TV News

Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast

“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’



First it was the Mannings. Now it’s McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.

No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.

Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.

McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast. However, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.

“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.” 

In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.

There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.

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