Cubs’ new Marquee Network signs with DirecTV

New deal part of overall pact with Sinclair Broadcasting and AT&T.

If you don’t know what the word “leverage” means if you’re a Cubs fan and a DirecTV subscriber, you know now – and you can thank Sinclair Broadcasting.

As a part of Sinclair’s new carriage agreement with AT&T, the new Marquee Network featuring the Chicago Cubs will be available at launch for DirecTV, U-Verse, and AT&T Now subscribers. From the press release:

Baltimore, MD (October 17, 2019) – Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI), and
AT&T have agreed on a multi-year agreement across DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse for continued carriage of Sinclair’s owned local broadcast stations and Tennis Channel, for future carriage of Marquee Sports Network, a regional sports network featuring games of the Chicago Cubs launching in 2020, as well as for the 21 RSN brands Sinclair recently acquired and the YES Network, in which Sinclair is a joint-venture partner.

The Hunt Valley, Md.-based broadcaster – known for its “must-run” conservative content on its local news stations, is a partner with the Cubs on the new network.

Sinclair’s carriage deal with AT&T covers the 191 television stations it owns nationwide, not to mention Marquee, the former Fox regional sports networks, and the Tennis Channel, which is already on DirecTV. Sinclair owns and/or operates numerous stations downstate including Peoria, Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, and St. Louis (even though downstate fans will get Marquee through AT&T, actual Cubs games on the channel are subject to blackout due to territorial restrictions.)

The news comes as content providers and cable and satellite companies are continuing to have carriage disputes. Dish and Fox had one a few weeks and it has been resolved, but only after Fox pulled their networks from the satellite provider for nearly two weeks.

This brings the number of deals Marquee has made up to two. Earlier, Marquee struck a deal with Charter Communications, who serves viewers in Kenosha, Wis.

All eyes are now on Dish, who recently dropped NBC Sports Chicago, Fox’s RSNs, and Colorado’s Altitude, who are also were dropped by DirecTV and Comcast (Xfinity), leaving nearly the entire state without a way to see the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. Even though there has been complaints from fans, advertisers haven’t been too concerned as clients have yet to raise any issues. Dish has publicly stated it is considering getting out of the RSN business because it is too expensive, hurting the chances for Marquee’s carriage on the provider from the start.

The pressure is also on Comcast, RCN, and WOW, Chicago’s other cable providers to carry Marquee. The channel has also yet to strike deals with internet streamers such as Fubo, PlaystationVue, and YouTubeTV, where as rivals NBC Sports Chicago already has deals (NBC Sports Chicago currently has a short-term extension with AT&T, while a longer-term deal is being negotiated.)



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