Q. I know that DIRECTV will carry the new Chicago Cubs channel, but what about Dish. I would like to see it on my lineup since they will have all the games. — Mark, Evanston, Illinois.
Mark, the new Marquee Sports Network, which will be the exclusive home to Chicago Cubs game broadcasts, launches on February 22, 2020 with the Cubs playing the Oakland Athletics in a spring training contest.
The channel replaces the previous providers of the Cubs games, which includes NBC Sports Chicago and WGN. Marquee, which is owned by the Cubs and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, will feature 150 live Cubs games as well as pre-game and post-game shows, and other Cubs-related programming.
Marquee will be a regional sports network, meaning the Cubs broadcasts will only be available in the team’s broadcast market which includes Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.
So will Dish carry it, you ask?
Not likely, at least anytime soon. The satcaster is already in a blackout fee fight with the Fox regional sports networks, which are owned by, yes, you guessed it, Sinclair. I can’t imagine a scenario in which Dish would add Marquee without also agreeing to carry the Fox regional sports channels. And it doesn’t look like that will happen, yes, anytime soon.
By the way, as of today, the following providers have agreed to carry the Marquee Sports Network: DIRECTV, AT&T TV Now, Charter, Mediacom, and U-verse.
The biggest holdout thus far is actually not Dish; it’s Comcast, which has the cable franchise for the Chicago market and represents roughly 50 percent of homes in the area.
Officials for Sinclair and the Cubs recently said they are hopeful of securing a deal with Comcast prior to opening day, but it will be difficult. The pay TV industry is getting increasingly picky when it comes to adding new channels due to rising program acquisition costs and shrinking subscriber bases.
And considering Comcast serves so many homes in the Chicago area, the cable operator would have to pay a handsome sum for the rights to Marquee. (Marquee, like most channels, charges a separate fee for every home the TV provider offers the channel. That’s why Comcast’s Marquee bill would easily be the highest of any TV provider.)
The TV Answer Man will monitor this situation and report back here if the Comcast-Marquee stand-off is resolved, or if there’s any sign that Dish will get into the game.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann
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