Hey, Outside Chicago, Whaddya Say, Cubs are Gonna Syndicate
Feel free to read the whole thing, but if you’re looking for the list of TV affiliates for WGN and ABC games, scroll to the bottom.
The Cubs brand and far-flung fanbase was built on the back of a blowtorch radio broadcast that began in 1925 and a nationwide TV signal that picked up 23 years later. But it’s axiomatic that the advent of cable and satellite television, not to mention the interwebs, served to undermine WGN’s strength in those areas.
The good news for radio listeners is that they’ll still have the pleasure of hearing Pat Hughes’ mellifluous voice calling Cubs games, even though it’ll be on WBBM. As for viewers, however, there are 45 games that may be seen on a locals-only basis, per the agreements with ABC-7 and WGN-9.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal but for the extension of blackout rules to the increasingly-popular MLB.tv streaming service (Cubs Insider receives a small share if you subscribe through that link). And even those fans outside the electronic curtain may bristle at the thought of paying $20/month just to watch a few dozen Cubs games.
To their credit, the Cubs have been making efforts to get those broadcasts to regional viewers via syndication. The team has also said that it plans to speak with Major League Baseball about a softening of blackout restrictions on the streaming service in the event that the aforementioned strategy fails to cover enough area.
Local stations throughout the Midwest have either agreed to adopt the orphaned games or exploring options to do so. WIFR out of Rockford, IL has announced that they will carry 45 games on 23.2 Antenna TV and Ft. Wayne, IN’s MyTV will run 38 games with an option for the remaining 7. In addition, My59, WAOE from Peoria/Bloomington, IL, will be carrying all 45 games.
WISH-TV in Indianapolis is looking into the possibility as well and WHO-HD out of Des Moines has carried select Cubs and White Sox games in the past, so one might assume they’d be trying to do more of the same. Indiana and Iowa are big Cubs strongholds and getting distribution in those markets would cover a great deal of the blacked-out region.
Those of you in Central IN will be happy to know that you have a new home of the Cubs…and the Sox. President and GM Les Vann announced that WISH-TV and sister station, MyINDY-TV 23 will begin carrying games from both teams starting in April. There will be 57 games broadcast, though the exact breakdown of the schedule is not yet available.
KCWI and WOI out of Des Moines, IA will be carrying Cubs games as well, according to @HotStoveCubbies. This has been confirmed by the Iowa Cubs as well, but has yet to be formally announced by either station.
I had missed it earlier, but Brett from Bleacher Nation had posted that Champaign’s WCIX will be carrying the 24 games from ABC-7.
The Cubs have released a full list of local affiliate stations that will be broadcasting the WGN-9 and ABC-7 games.