The Cubs are holding their annual fan convention this weekend, and it's a little bit awkward because the fan base is not that jazzed about how the team's offseason has gone. There has been little in the way of player acquisitions and there is some anxiety about whether people will be able to watch the games given the carriage status of the Marquee Network, which the Cubs are launching. Owner Tom Ricketts brought up the channel on Friday, and promptly got booed:
Marquee Network has carriage deals with DirecTV and some smaller distributors in place, but the elephant in the room is Comcast. Given that Comcast owns regional sports networks in a number of regions, including Chicago, one would imagine that they won't be too far apart from the Cubs on the value proposition of carrying Marquee.
Nevertheless, presumably a big proportion of the reason that Ricketts got booed when he mentioned the network is anxiety that an impasse could last years like it has with the Dodgers, where a majority of Southern California can't watch the games. The Yankees have also had disputes with carriers over the years about YES Network that have bled into baseball season. Ricketts did an interview with Patrick Mooney of The Athletic this week and expressed confidence that Marquee will have wide distribution.
Another reason for the booing, as some have pointed out, was that a number of Cubs games were available for free on WGN or the local ABC affiliate, and now they'll all be exclusively on cable. One surmises that if the carriage fees from the network launch enable the Cubs to go out and make free agency splashes next year instead of doing another song and dance like they just don't have the money that fans will not be vociferous in their displeasure at the 2021 Cubs Convention.