Wow, indeed: deal with chief competitor puts heat on Comcast/Xfinity
In a deal that could put pressure on Comcast, Wide Open West – basically known as WOW, reached an agreement Wednesday to carry the Chicago Cubs’ new regional sports network beginning March 13.
What makes this deal important is WOW covers much of Chicago’s South Side with Comcast as a chief competitor (Chicago is one of a very few number of cities where there is more than one cable provider in a certain area.)
The press release states WOW is also available in a few western and northwestern suburbs, and a few to the south including “Calumet” though it wasn’t clear if they were referring to Calumet City, which is adjacent to Hammond, Ind., or southwest suburban Calumet Park, which borders 123rd and Halsted streets with Chicago, but WOW is available in both. A spot check revealed WOW is also available in Chicago Heights, South Holland, and Lansing.
“WOW is the fourth-largest provider in Chicago and an important part of our distribution landscape, and we are pleased to have them join the more than 40 carriage partners who have already signed on,” Marquee general manager Mike McCarthy said in the press release.
More importantly, it gives WOW a leg up on Comcast, who competes with them in the above-mentioned areas as the nation’s largest cable provider has yet to reach a deal with Marquee. Another major holdout is Dish, who is in a carriage dispute with numerous RSNs including NBC Sports Chicago, Altitude, and the 21 former Fox sports channels owned by Sinclair.
The rollout of Marquee last Saturday was panned by many due to numerous glitches and the failure to show up on some systems on the day of launch, although Marquee finally was added to some DirecTV’s subs Wednesday, including mine.
Marquee is a joint venture between the Chicago Cubs and Sinclair Broadcasting. During an earnings conference call Wednesday, CEO Chris Ripley said the 21 Fox RSNs bought from The Walt Disney Co. last year will be re-branded in a few months, including a “digital reboot” of those platforms, but declined to give details. Sinclair also plans to add legalized sports betting elements to the channels, including Marquee.