It’s still worth it, every so often, to consider how impressive it is that the Ricketts family pissed all over the glow of being the ownership group that brought the first World Series title to the Northside of Chicago in 100 years to being universally hated in less than five.
A high-level college class will be dedicated to it one day. Then again, it may be contagious in this town, considering how Rocky Wirtz isn’t only determined to piss on his legacy but then light the ashes on fire again.
Anyway, one would think that this would be the perfect time for baseball owners to lay low, other than maybe try to do some negotiating to end this lockout they installed. Of course, as a whole, they haven’t been able to resist trying to steal the spotlight with their empty and ham-fisted request for federal mediators, which pretty much everyone, especially the players, saw right through. The only thing the owners can do to try and curry some good PR light is to end the lockout, either by itself or by reaching an agreement that will make the game better. Don’t sit on a hot stove waiting for either.
That apparently won’t stop some owners from trying to do something in their own markets to try and present themselves as something other than a newer version of The Violator from Spawn. Which is the void the Cubs think they can hurl themselves into by coming up with an over-the-top streaming service of their own channel, Marquee sports.
It’s important to remind you all what a backyard carnival Marquee Sports has been for the Cubs, except the backyard carnival would have better production value. The Cubs launched the network after the RSN bubble had basically burst, which is why parent company Sinclair is so awash in red ink every employee looks like the Russian team from Super Dodgeball on NES. Also they launched it during the pandemic, and didn’t have an actual regular-season game to broadcast for months, and not a real one for over a year. Marquee had the same problems before the Cubs ever played a game there that a lot of RSNs have run into, in that cable companies didn’t want to pay their outrageous carriage fees, considering they only provide programming anyone wants for maybe half of the year. Combined with more and more customers cutting the cord and not having cable at all, there just wasn’t much of an audience for something like this anymore.
On top of that, you’ve seen high school AV clubs with better production and more creativity than Marquee has. Other than Cubs games, which again are only on the channel three to four hours a day for only six months, there is NOTHING on there. They didn’t attempt to bring a full-time winter programming like the Hawks with them (though maybe dodged a bullet there), and airing mid- to low-level college basketball games isn’t really doing anything for anyone either. NESN has the Bruins. YES has the Nets. It doesn’t matter for the Dodgers given how much they cashed in on their deal years ago. But after that, people realized how much of a two-dimensional brick these RSNs can be. Again, if there’s not as much demand as the Cubs thought there would be for their channel when they are playing, there’s none when they aren’t.
Oh, and it should be mentioned that the Cubs completely tore their Major League team apart just when they had a full season for the first time to broadcast, lowering interest in watching their dreck product on their dreck channel even more.
Because Marquee isn’t on a majority of the streaming options that more and more people are opting for, it’s even less in demand. It’s not on YouTube, or Hulu, or Sling, and is basically only on FuboTV of the major streaming options.
So, news broke that the Cubs want to develop an over-the-top streaming channel to get to those who don’t have cable and don’t get it otherwise. But they can’t do this in any measured or competent way either, as reportedly they want it to cost $18 a month. That’s $18 a month, or $204 a year, for six months to watch whatever palooka and lost beer vendor the Cubs choose to field to surround Marcus Stroman with while he wonders just what the fuck he got himself into. That’s almost twice as much as one pays for the Disney-Hulu-ESPN bundle, which actually offers, y’know, stuff people want.
Reportedly, MLB and Rob Manfred are leaning hard against that, as MLB doesn’t want this to become a trend and still has to solve the blackout restrictions anarchy it has with its MLB package. Also, given the price, it’s incredibly dumb and perhaps there’s a limit, even for Manfred, on how dumb he wants his owners to look.
Though he’ll look pretty stupid, and so will the Cubs, when Sinclair’s sports wing goes completely belly-up and they’re left with no options. Wake me up when we get there.