Cubs Network a 2020 reality? Or 2015 reality show? Depends who you ask

SHARE Cubs Network a 2020 reality? Or 2015 reality show? Depends who you ask

Cubs business president Crane Kenney, left, and baseball president Theo Epstein

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Cubs announced Wednesday a second address change in as many years for their flagship radio broadcasts – next year’s games moving to 670-WSCR.

But it was business president Crane Kenney’s declaration about future TV plans while talking on the station Wednesday morning that drew attention as far away as South Florida, where the general managers meetings are being held this week.

The Cubs’ current local TV contracts expire after 2019. And then?

“We’ll move over and launch our own channel in 2020,” Kenney told morning-show hosts Mully and Hanley.

That’s not a new idea; the Cubs have talked about a 24/7, Cubs/baseball channel for years as a way to hyper-boost regional TV revenues.

But Kenney’s certainty (without details of process or cost-revenue projections) was new. He also brought it up a second time during the 20-minute conversation, again suggesting a firm plan.

But not so fast, baseball ops president Theo Epstein said later in the day from the GM meetings.

“I think that’s just one option,” said Epstein, who has called the long-anticipated new TV revenues a “game changer” for his department’s resources. “My understanding is we’d be open to a deal earlier than that as well, as long as a good one presents itself.”

So was Kenney’s assertion a negotiating ploy?

“I think it’s a very real option,” said Epstein, who backed away from talking more about a subject he monitors but said he doesn’t “fully understand.”

A Cubs-owned network has the potential for open-ended revenue growth for years, but it comes with startup costs and risks.

A rights deal with an existing outlet doesn’t carry the same risk and theoretically has the benefit of producing revenue ahead of launch.

“Not everyone succeeds,” Kenney acknowledged. “The ones that have succeeded, though, have done really well for their teams in providing resources back to the club, and to save the ballpark, in our case. So we’re very excited about it.”

The Latest
It is one of 10 projects across the country to receive a federal grant to build advanced intelligent transportation system technologies that will improve mobility, safety and provide multimodal transportation.
Rashon Kyle was arrested Sunday in the Brainerd neighborhood and charged in the June 12 shooting that killed Vincent J. Barnes, police said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Julien on Tuesday told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber he should not allow defense attorneys to embark on “a wide-ranging fishing expedition in the hopes of turning up evidence of some kind of government misconduct.”
For the second time in less than a month, an Illinois angler caught a pending Illinois record pink salmon. What is going on?
The Black, Southern cuisine that the Harvey-raised chef learned at home has made Hyde Park’s Virtue the hottest spot on the South Side and made him a success on “Top Chef.”