Cubs, Sinclair Could Launch Streaming Service Over MLB Objections

    • The Chicago Cubs could launch a standalone streaming service with Sinclair.
    • MLB has concerns about the arrangement.

With baseball’s media future in flux, the Chicago Cubs are reportedly exploring launching their own streaming service with major broadcaster Sinclair.

The two sides, which co-own Cubs broadcaster Marquee Sports, are looking to charge $18 per month for the standalone service.

While many Major League Baseball teams have relied on Sinclair’s clutch of regional sports networks for local broadcasts, the league reportedly has concerns about the company as a long-term media partner.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is wary of Sinclair’s ability to produce a high-quality media product, given its balance sheet. 

  • Sinclair held $12.8 billion in total assets at the end of the third quarter 2021, including $1.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents.
  • Sinclair outbid MLB in August 2019, buying 21 regional sports networks from Disney at a $10.6 billion value.
  • The networks were rebranded from Fox Sports to Bally Sports in March 2021.
  • Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group, a subsidiary it created to hold the regional sports network properties, holds $9 billion in debt, due in 2026.

Baseball’s Streaming Future

MLB is hoping to launch its own streaming service in 2023. The league has offered out-of-market games through its MLB.TV streaming service since 2002. 

Sinclair, meanwhile, is preparing to launch a streaming service centered on its regional sports networks, which hold rights to 14 MLB teams, 16 NBA teams, and 12 NHL teams.

A Cubs-focused service could create a precedent for MLB teams as they weigh their media options.