Chicago Cubs Parting From WGN Radio After 90 Years

Cubs

It is no secret to baseball fans throughout the country that the Chicago Cubs have had it rough the past few decades. Every year seems to be ‘the year’ that the Cubs will take it home and through it all many fans have stayed hopeful and loyal. WGN Radio has been their top fan since 1924 when they first signed a contract to broadcast the Cubs games. This loyalty is now coming to an end as the Chicago Cubs are parting from WGN Radio after 90 years.

It was the better business decision for WGN. After losing 197 games in just two seasons and 288 games in three seasons, WGN AM 720 suffered significantly from decreased ratings as each season passed. Not to mention that in 2013, numerous weekend games showed no rating points at all in the radio station’s meter system. WGN was slowly losing money and its credibility.

In 2009, WGN paid nearly $10 million to the Cubs franchise for the deal, and the amount would continue to rise and eventually doubled since then. When WGN realized they were running out of financial options, the radio station’s head financial team constructed different contract deals to keep the loyal partnership with the Cubs while also lessening yearly expenses in connection with the franchise. One option even included the Cubs handling all broadcast and advertising rights while WGN would simply only air the games for a small fee, which is the absolute minimal deal that the radio station offers. The Cubs did not agree with any of the five different offers presented to them and looked to sign elsewhere. This season will end the longest radio contract in all of baseball broadcast history. This contract was scheduled to end in 2022.

As the Cubs part from WGN Radio after 90 years, the franchise is now looking to sign a new seven-year contract with Chicago’s other prestigious hometown radio station, WBBM AM 780. They offered the Cubs an all-cash deal, one in which the Cubs could not refuse.

The dissolution of the partnership leads to one other problem. Not only did WGN air the Cubs games on the radio, but they also aired the games on their WGN TV station as well. Thankfully for the organization, the games are split equally with Chicago’s Comcast Sports Net. CSN airs half of the 162 games throughout the season, but they have not gone public about picking up the other half from the WGN loss. The dual-partnership included the Cubs receiving $500,000 a game from CSN and only $250,000 from WGN TV. With this, the Cubs have decided to increase that number and require that it will cost $500,000 a game for whichever TV station decides to be part of the dual-partnership.

The Cubs are projected to lose at least 100 games as they have doubled that projection loss throughout the past few years. It is clear that the team is suffering greatly as they lose not only professional deals, but loyalty from their fans. There is still a great majority that will ‘bleed Cubbie Blue’ forever, but on a professional standpoint, the Cubs will need to discuss how half of their earnings they lost from WGN TV will be taken care of. WBBM AM 720 will welcome the Cubs to their station next season as Chicago Cubs part from their longtime partnership with WGN Radio after 90 years.

Commentary by Tricia Manalansan

Sources:
ESPN
Yahoo! News
Chicago Tribune

4 Responses to "Chicago Cubs Parting From WGN Radio After 90 Years"

  1. Chad   January 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    “WBBM AM 720 will welcome the Cubs to their station next season as Chicago Cubs part from their longtime partnership with WGN Radio after 90 years.”

    It’s WBBM AM 780…….good job proof reading

    Reply
  2. Darrellb   June 11, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Also the Cubs are not losing money by leaving WGN TV. They will make much more in their new TV deal. It would be a good idea to research your subject before you write next time.

    Reply
  3. Darrellb   June 11, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Other than both being called WGN and both being owned by the Tribune company, WGN radio and WGN America have nothing to do with each other and the Cubs contracts have nothing to do with each other.
    Also you seem to be confusing WGN America which is a national cable channel with WGN local TV 9.
    WGN radio announced last year that they wanted to exercise an option to open their contract with the Cubs. They were losing money and wanted to pay a lower price. By contract this opened up availability for other stations to bid. WBBM radio came in with a good bid and WGN decided not to match and bowed out.
    The Cubs had an option in their WGN TV contract that allowed them to open up bidding for the 2015 season. WGN America decided that they wanted to just be a full time cable channel with original prime time dramas, etc and that local Chicago sports and news no longer fit with a national channel. This does leave the Cubs looking for a new TV partner for 2015, but local WGN 9 could still bid for some of the games. It is incorrect that the games were equally split between CSN and WGN. CSN carried a few more. The reason why WGN TV was paying such a cheap price for the Cubs, was because at the time of the contract the Cubs and WGN TV were owned by the Tribune Company. The Tribune was paying themselves. Since they were paying themselves they sent less to the baseball team so that the team would have less to share in the MLB revenue sharing program with other teams and the Tribune company could keep more. The Cubs have since been sold the new owners but the new owners were stuck in a bad TV deal until after 2014. The Cubs get about $60 million combined from CSN and WGN TV. The Dodgers get $280 million per year from their TV deal. It hard to compete when another team starts with $220 per year more than you.

    Reply
  4. Darrellb   June 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    “In 2009, WGN paid nearly $10 million to the Cubs franchise for the deal, and the amount would continue to rise and eventually doubled since then.”

    They are paying $10 million right now. It didn’t double.

    Reply

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