By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The CBS Radio group has scored a coup, agreeing to a seven-year contract with the Chicago Cubs for the exclusive rights to broadcast the team’s baseball games on WBBM Newsradio 780-AM beginning with the 2015 season. After the Cubs had long contract talks with numerous radio outlets, CBS was the choice of the team’s business executives.
This new deal could be worth as much as $70 million to the Cubs.
Industry sources said that WGN Radio, which held exclusive rights to Cubs on the radio since the 1950s, refused to match the CBS offer. WGN had the right to retain and keep the Cubs on their airwaves in accordance with the current contract. The same sources said that due to the three years of losing by the Cubs at a record pace, WGN Radio was in the red by about $3 million-$4 million worth of revenue sales annually on the deal.
The Cubs wanted a partner for the future that could have a vision to use multiple outlets in cross promotion of the Cubs. The CBS group can offer sports, news and country radio stations that will get involved in the selling of the Cubs brand.
This will be accomplished with its digital advertising as well as over the airwaves. The new “Cub corridor” also will afford access for all of the CBS outlets to broadcast as part of the street festivities in the projected Cubs party scene before and after games.
In the 1930s and ’40s, the Cubs allowed local radio stations to broadcast their home games for free. At one point in the mid-’30s, seven local Chicago radio station carried the broadcasts at the same time. The first broadcasts of Cubs games on the radio were in 1925 on WMAQ, which is its later years of existence was owned by CBS radio. WMAQ continued to broadcast Cubs games through 1941, and the franchise didn’t charge any fees for its radio rights until 1937.
WBBM is a sister station of 670 The Score.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.