Marquee Sports Network
|Marquee Sports Network|
|Launched||22 February 2020|
|Owned by||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|Sister channel(s)||Fox Sports Networks|
Marquee Sports Network is an upcoming regional sports network to be operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Chicago Cubs, scheduled to launch in February 2020. It will be devoted exclusively to Cubs baseball, replacing a triad of channels (cable channel NBC Sports Chicago and broadcast partners WLS-TV and WGN-TV) as the exclusive broadcaster of Cubs games not shown on national TV.
On November 16, 2015 in an interview with WSCR radio, the Cubs' president of business operations Crane Kenney stated that the team was seeking to launch its own in-house regional sports network after its current broadcast contracts with NBC Sports Chicago, WGN Sports, and WLS-TV expire after the 2019 season.
On December 18, 2018, it was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times that the team was preparing to launch its RSN, "Marquee", in 2020, and that Sinclair Broadcast Group (which had previously attempted to purchase WGN's parent company Tribune Media, and runs the national sports network Stadium with the White Sox's investment arm Silver Chalice) was a frontrunner to serve as managing partner. The venture was officially announced in February 2019 to be launched in 2020.
On May 22, 2019, Michael McCarthy was named general manager of the Marquee Sports Network after being the Cubs' consultant on the channel. He is the former president of the MSG Network and a former top official with the Milwaukee Bucks (COO) and the St. Louis Blues (vice chairman).
On August 22, 2019, a consortium of Sinclair and Entertainment Studios acquired Fox Sports Networks for $10.6 billion, thus making Marquee a sister to them (FSN previously operated a Chicago network, but it became defunct when Chicago's professional teams abandoned it in favor of a joint venture with Comcast—currently known as NBC Sports Chicago). The divestiture was mandated as part of Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox, who chose not to retain the networks under its successor Fox Corporation.
The Cubs' current television commentators Len Kasper (play-by-play) and Jim Deshaies (color) will maintain their roles on Marquee. On May 1, 2019, it was reported that David Kaplan—NBC Sports Chicago studio host for Cubs games—had renewed his contract with the channel, dispelling rumors that he planned to join Marquee.
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