With Tom Ricketts and the Ricketts family on the verge of becoming the new owners of the Chicago Cubs, there will be a lot of opportunities for the team to expand its already strong hold on the city of Chicago and open up new revenue streams in the process. One of which would be to eventually form their own television network in the near future, similar to what the New York Yankees have with the YES Network, and what the Boston Red Sox have with NESN.
Now it seems like this is a project that would be at least a year away, but according to Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney it may be hear sooner than you think. Kenney was a guest on "Talking Baseball" -- a radio show hosted by Chet Coppock and Bruce Levine on ESPN1000AM -- on Saturday morning and he talked of plans for a network that would be "like the MLB Network, but with just the Cubs."
Kenney also went on to say that the team is working on an OnDemand package they would like to present to both local cable companies and satellite providers to have on televisions across Chicagoland by Opening Day. The package would include a lot of archival Cubs footage along with highlights of games, or maybe even replays of Cubs games from the 2009 season. In other words, it would be a precursor to what Cubs fans could expect from a full-blown Cubs network.
Of course, one difference between what the networks like YES and NESN can do that the Cubs couldn't is broadcast all their teams games live. While nobody knows for sure what the Tribune Company's rights are to Cubs television broadcasts, it's believed they they own the rights for around ten more years. This means the Cubs wouldn't be able to show live games, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be able to fill air time with archival footage, and other studio shows. Plus, and this wasn't discussed by Kenney, the team may possibly be able to work out a deal in which they could broadcast the games of its minor-league affiliates. Something die-hard Cubs fans may relish the chance to see.