Talks are ongoing between Comcast SportsNet Chicago (CSN) and WLS/7 to have Comcast produce the 25 Chicago Cubs games that ABC O&O WLS/7 has contracted to telecast for each of the next five years.
Negotiations partially hinge on the forthcoming announcement of the specific Cubs games that WLS/7 will broadcast. In addition to WLS/7’s complement of 25 games, CSN Chicago will air 82 Cubs games, while WGN/9 has re-upped for five more years with 45 games each season.
CSN Chicago obviously would produce the games with the look and feel WLS proscribes. WLS has to farm out production because it does not have in-house baseball game production resources. The limited number of Ch. 7 games also lends itself to an outside producer.
WLS entered the Cubs TV picture after WGN opted to get out of its contract with the Cubs in 2014 due to mounting financial losses of up to $200,000 per game. WGN paid the Cubs $250,000 per telecast for rights fees.
But the Cubs entered December without a broadcast outlet for the 2015 season, a dangerous situation given the advance time frame to sell sponsorships. WLS’ entrance into the derby was considered a surprise by all observers.
After WLS announced its Cubs deal Dec. 11, the team came back to WGN and reached agreement for the reduced schedule on Jan. 7. WGN has telecast the Cubs since 1948.
CSN Chicago, WLS and WGN Cubs contracts all run through 2019. The Cubs desired to synchronize all its TV contracts to conclude in the same year. At that point, the team has long been projected to start its own financially-lucrative network in the manner of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.