Comcast Makes Ninth-Inning Deal to Carry Marquee Sports

(Image credit: Marquee Sports Network)

Comcast and Marquee Sports Network have agreed to a multiple-year deal that will let the majority of Chicago households watch Cubs games as the season starts.

Marquee, a joint venture of the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group, has been negotiating with Comcast, the largest cable operator. The network launched in February without a Comcast deal, leading to concern that many fans won’t be able to see games.

Related: Marquee Sports Network Steps Up to the Plate

The deal was part of a larger distribution agreement between Comcast and Sinclair. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We finished our negotiations with Comcast to carry Marquee and it will be available in all Xfinity homes,” Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations told the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the story Friday morning.

The Cubs, like the rest of Major League Baseball, will be playing a 60 game season that was shortened and postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This agreement is monumental for us and the multitude of Chicagoans who can now watch live Cubs games on a network as dedicated to the team as they are,” said Marquee Sports Network GM Mike McCarthy. “We are proud that thanks to an undying commitment from the Cubs, Sinclair and Comcast to get this deal done, fans in and around Chicago can tune in when the team opens the season against the Brewers tonight.”

The team's opening game Friday will appear nationally on ESPN and Saturday's game will be on Fox.

Marquee had previously announced carriage deals with carriers including AT&T, RCN and Hulu. It does not have a deal with Dish, which has been balking at expensive sports deals.

Comcast customers can watch Marquee Sports Network and the Cubs on channel 202 in the Chicago Metropolitan area. The agreement also provides carriage in Ft. Wayne and portions of the Indianapolis market that Comcast serves.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.