Marquee network flubs debut

No Marquee.

Very few people in the Chicago area weren’t able to see the premiere of the new RSN – even if a deal was struck with their provider

It’s time to play Monday night quarterback and assess the launch of Marquee Sports Network, the new joint venture between the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcasting.

And of course, it didn’t go very well.

The new regional sports network did launch as planned Saturday at 1 p.m. – but many viewers who thought they would receive the channel – didn’t, including myself.

Numerous customers ranging from those subscribing to DirecTV and Spectrum/Charter reported not getting the channel at all to a few viewers only getting the channel in standard definition (Mediacom) to voices out of sync with the picture – not to mention a planned launch by Hulu’s live TV service was being delayed indefinitely, while a deal with Comcast’s Xfinity has remained elusive.

The debacle has been panned thoroughly. “Saturday’s long-awaited debut turned out to be the worst new product launch in memory”, wrote Robert Feder Monday. Paul M. Banks of SportsBank called the launch “a cataclysmic failure”. The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal, who himself had to wait an hour before receiving the network through RCN, noted “Saturday’s debut did not go as smoothly as all concerned might have hoped.”

And here’s some random Twitter reactions:

The interesting part about the photo above is both Spectrum and DirecTV struck deals with Marquee – and yet is says “coming soon”. Others complained they weren’t able to get the actual game (Cubs vs. A’s) because of MLB restrictions banning out-of-territory viewers from watching games on RSNs (they would have to purchase a subscription from MLB.com)

In all, most Chicagoland viewers were not able to see the launch of Marquee or the Cubs-A’s game, already pushed back due to rain.

The Marquee Network did show up in DirecTV’s lineup Saturday morning on channel 664 (located conveniently next to NBC Sports Chicago’s channel number of 665), but when it came time for the official launch, “Error Code 721” popped up on the screen, as noted in the first photo above. On Twitter I pointed out the launch of the ACC Network had similar issues with DirecTV last year, and the network showed up several days later, so it may take some time. I was contacted by a DirecTV rep, and said they would get back to me (they never did.) AT&T has yet to publicly comment on the situation, so when Marquee becomes available on DirecTV is anyone’s guess.

But if one can still receive the Cubs’ former home of NBC Sports Chicago, one should also receive Marquee Sports. If it turns out the Ricketts family decided to put their new channel on a higher paid tier on DirecTV, Spectrum, or any other system, then that’s just asinine. This group had a year to get their act together and to have any kind of delay at this point to those who were promised the channel is hugely disappointing. Marquee and the cable/streaming providers each need to get it together by Opening Day, or the reaction is going to be far worse than you see now.

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