The Chicago Cubs are teaming with Sinclair Broadcast Group to launch a regional sports network in February 2020 that will become the exclusive television home of the Cubs.,It marks the end of more than 70 years of over-the-air broadcasts for the Cubs, and the beginning of an ambitious endeavor to sell cable and satellite providers on the value of the carrying the new regional network — no sure thing in an increasingly fragmented world of cable TV.,But if all goes according to plan and cable providers from Southwest Michigan to Iowa — Major League Baseball’s designated home broadcast turf for the team — agree to carry the new network, viewers will have no choice but to watch local Cubs games on pay TV.,Having their own channel will enable the Cubs to have all of their programming in one place, versus splitting the games between two broadcast stations — WGN-Ch.9 and WLS-Ch.7 — and sharing coverage with the Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox on NBC Sports Chicago, formerly Comcast SportsNet, the regional sports network formed in 2004.,But in the five years since the Cubs planted the seed of the regional sports network, the pay-TV landscape has changed dramatically, with cord cutting and skinny bundles squeezing the carriage fees cable companies are willing to pay for even sports, long the most valuable programming commodity.
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 »
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Billionaire media mogul John Malone is cobbling together a team to bid for the Fox-owned regional sports networks being sold by Disney — and his roster will be going head-to-head against Major League Baseball, The Post has learned.,Malone’s Liberty Media, which in addition to big stakes in cable giant Charter and Sirius XM owns the Atlanta Braves — is matching the Braves with owners of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and the Minnesota Twins, sources said.,The Liberty mogul’s strategy, according to sources, includes a promise to team owners that he will continue to sell games to local broadcasters, where cable television is chiefly how fans follow their favorite teams.,“It’s almost like [Malone is] enlisting owners of certain teams whose games are televised by Fox RSNs,” a close follower of the auction said.,Liberty’s 23 percent stake in Charter — the country’s second-largest cable operator — could make Malone’s bid synergistic as well.
The new-look Fox Corp. on Friday announced that it will not bid for the 22 regional sports networks the Walt Disney Co. is selling off in accordance with the terms of the two media giants' $71.3 billion asset transfer.,Given its stated emphasis on sports, live events and news, the so-called "New Fox" that will emerge after the Disney deal goes through was thought to be the most likely contender to buy back the RSNs.,While YES Network is the crown jewel of the bunch—the Yankees/Brooklyn Nets outlet has been the most-watched RSN in the country for 14 of the last 16 years—the Cleveland Cavaliers put up huge numbers on Fox Sports Ohio, while the MLB's Royals are no slouch on Fox Sports Kansas City.,Sinclair is now seen as the last viable bidder for the entire RSN portfolio; meanwhile, Amazon and the New York Yankees are teaming up in an apparent venture to take YES Network off Disney's hands.,Many RSNs now trail only ESPN as the most costly line-item expense on subscribers' monthly cable bills; per SNL Kagan estimates, three of the Fox RSNs—YES Network ($6.74), Fox Sports Detroit ($6.69), Fox Sports Arizona ($5.48)—command among the priciest affiliate fees on the menu.
Twenty-First Century Fox said on Friday it does not plan to bid for any of the regional sports networks that Walt Disney Co may sell to win U.S. Justice Department's approval for its purchase of Fox's film and TV assets.,REUTERS: Twenty-First Century Fox said (click https://bit.ly/2CisCxJ) on Friday it does not plan to bid for any of the regional sports networks that Walt Disney Co may need to sell to win U.S. Justice Department's approval for its purchase of Fox's film and TV assets.,Fox Chairman Lachlan Murdoch said in November it was still an "open question" whether the company will buy back the regional sports networks it sold to Disney in July as part of the US$71 billion deal.,Disney won a bidding war last year against cable company Comcast Corp to acquire Fox's assets.,But the U.S. Justice Department has said Disney, which owns cable sports network ESPN, must divest Fox's 22 networks that provide sports programming for regional and local markets.
Entertainment mogul Ice Cubes Big3 basketball league is looking for a rebound.During a conference call with reporters Thursday, Big3s backers had planned to tout their incredible success and ambitious plans to expand the fledgling league into new markets.But Cube and his business partner, entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz, also revealed some ongoing challenges facing the league, including the end of its two-year TV contract with Fox Sports.It is really time to move on, Cube said.Big3 has spent much of the last year locked in a bitter legal dispute with a Qatari investment firm and has struggled to recruit a deep-pocketed investor to help back the leagues hoped-for bid for the Fox sports channels.Cube and Kwatinetz previewed their plans for the leagues expansion: Big3 intends to grow to 12 teams from eight this year, and the league plans to widen its tour to 18 cities, up from 10.,Although its games which consist of former NBA basketball players competing three on three have brought in large crowds to sports arenas, TV rights deals are the lifeblood of professional sports leagues.Big3, Kwatinetz and others say, has been fielding interest from other sports broadcasters and the group hopes to have a new TV home by June, when the leagues third season tips off.Cube and Kwatinetz downplayed the termination of the Fox Sports TV contract.The company [Fox] is going to be a little different after Walt Disney Co. buys much of 21st Century Fox, Kwatinetz said.,Were both competing for a similar asset, potentially, Kwatinetz said.The league has been trying to scrape together as much as $15 billion to make a competitive bid for the Fox regional sports channels that Disney must sell after the Burbank entertainment giant completes its $71.3-billion purchase of much of Fox.,Kwatinetz said that tennis star Serena Williams, entertainer L.L. Cool J and former basketball star Julius Erving were interested in joining their bid for the regional sports networks.The U.S. Justice Department is forbidding Disney from acquiring the 22 regional sports networks as part of its proposed Fox purchase because Disney already owns sports juggernaut ESPN.,Several people close to the auction say the odds are great that the 22 networks will be split up because that would generate more money for Disney.Kwatinetz, during the conference call, seemed to acknowledge that their bid for some or all of the Fox local sports channels might collapse.Ice Cube and I dont need a big asset to prove that were cool, he said.
The games are only available to Spectrum cable TV subscribers.,If you live in the Los Angeles TV market, or other TV markets that Dodgers claim as home markets, such as Las Vegas, you can not get the games through the MLB.com TV package or through the MLB Extra Innings package.,When the channel first started, it was only available to Time Warner Cable subscribers in the Los Angeles area and to Bright House subscribers in Bakersfield.,Charter Communications, the other big cable TV player in the Los Angeles area, acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House and created the Spectrum brand in 2016.,By this time many teams were showing most or even all their games on TV in their local market, usually in a combination of a local TV station and a regional sports network.
The shunning, shaving and cutting of the traditional pay TV cord and the ascendance of content via broadband — admittedly another cord that comes into the home — is supported in another survey released in March by consulting firm Deloitte, which found more than half (55 percent) of U.S. households subscribe to at least one video streaming service.,Here's what you need to know More: Netflix in January: Here are the best new family movies and shows to stream The next symbolic milestone — U.S. homes with streaming services surpassing the more than three-fourths (78 percent) that subscribe to traditional pay TV services — could come close to happening in 2019.,The need for content to compete with Netflix and other streaming video services has already led to ATT's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which a federal judge approved in June but the Justice Department is currently appealing, and Disney's $71-billion purchase in July of the Fox movie and TV studios and other assets including Fox's 30 percent stake in streaming service Hulu.,Disney's expanded streaming subscription play "will impact other streaming video providers that previously licensed Disney-owned content — content that will be redeployed exclusively on the new Disney over-the-top (OTT) media services offerings," wrote John Harrison, global media and entertainment sector leader for advisory firm EY in its recently released report.,Consumers are savvy and sensitive to price and value, he says, noting The Diffusion Group's survey found about 21 percent of broadband homes with a pay TV service (traditional or broadband) were at least considering canceling their service in the next six months.