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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

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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Sports TV News

St. Louis Cardinals Announcer Dan McLaughlin Charged With Third DWI

It is the third time McLaughlin has been charged with DWI. He was charged with the offense twice within 13 months in 2010 and 2011.

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Dan McLaughlin

St. Louis Cardinals television play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin has been charged with DWI after being arrested on Sunday in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, police received at least two phone calls from concerned drivers that a white BMW was driving erratically, with one caller saying it was driving into oncoming traffic.

It is the third time McLaughlin has been charged with DWI. He was charged with the offense twice within 13 months in 2010 and 2011.

Bally Sports Midwest and the released a joint statement Monday.

“We have been made aware that Dan McLaughlin was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on Sunday night.. We are very disappointed to hear this, and are working to gather additional information before offering further comment.”

McLaughlin, 48, has served as the voice of the Cardinals for 24 years.

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