But unlike HBO and “Game of Thrones,” WGN and the Cubs aren’t hyping their final season together after 72 years.,In my first year as Cubs beat writer in 1997, WGN televised 144 games.,The following January, the Cubs owners — Tribune Co. — decided to reduce the WGN schedule to 92 games, placing 62 games on CLTV, the company’s local cable news channel.,Fans gradually grew accustomed to watching more games on cable, and in 2003 the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks began their own sports channel, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which is now NBC Sports Chicago.,WGN will televise the Cubs' season opener — likely for the last time »

'I have more confidence than last year': A healthy Yu Darvish eyes his return to dominance with the Cubs » read more

But Rudnick is among a growing number of consumers who are turning to over-the-air digital antennas a one-time investment of as little as $20 as a way to slash their monthly video subscription costs.Research firms and electronics manufacturers say cord-cutting consumers such as Rudnick have driven up TV antenna sales and usage in recent years.,These value-conscious streamers, as they are known in the industry, are willing to cobble together a mosaic of video sources to replace the traditional pay TV bundle, which now costs an average of $107 a month, according to a recent study by the Leichtman Research Group.This year, 8.1 million over-the-air TV antennas will be delivered to retailers in the U.S., up 2% from last year and 8% over 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Assn.Nielsen estimates that 13.8% of U.S. homes depend on antennas to get their TV, up from 10.3% in 2014.,Research firm GfK North America puts the number of over-the-air TV homes at 16.4 million.The rapid acceleration of cord-cutting has put heavy pressure on the cable industry and media companies that own pay TV channels that depend on the steady revenue stream that subscribers provide.,The number of consumers whove canceled traditional pay TV service is expected to climb 33% to nearly 25 million this year, according to estimates from research firm eMarketer.Though worrisome for Hollywood, the trend has been a boon to antenna manufacturers like Channel Master.,Station ownership groups and the media conglomerates get a cut of pay TV subscriber fees, giving them little incentive to promote over-the-air antenna use.Consumers largely have to depend on manufacturer websites or blogs such as Cordcutters.com to learn which channels are available over the air in their area and which antenna is right for them.We do a terrible job of explaining that your local stations are available over the air for free, said Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting, a Chicago-based TV station group.