Marquee Sports Network

Marquee Sports Network is a regional sports network operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Chicago Cubs, launched on February 22, 2020. It is devoted exclusively to Cubs baseball, replacing a trio 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.[1]

Marquee Sports Network
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaNorthern and Central Illinois, Iowa, Eastern and Central Nebraska, Northern, Western and Central Indiana, Southwestern Michigan, Southeastern Wisconsin
Nationwide (via satellite)
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois
OwnerSinclair Broadcast Group
Chicago Cubs
Sister channelsBally Sports
YES Network
LaunchedFebruary 22, 2020 (2020-02-22)
Streaming media
DirecTV StreamInternet Protocol television
FuboTVInternet Protocol television


The main entrance marquee outside Wrigley Field, from which the channel derives its name.

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.[2][3][4]

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 was a frontrunner to serve as managing partner.[5] Sinclair 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. The venture was officially announced in February 2019 to be launched in 2020 with Sinclair.[6][7]

On May 22, 2019, Michael McCarthy was named general manager of the Marquee Sports Network after being the Cubs' consultant on the channel.[8] He is the former president of the MSG Network[8] and a former top official with the Milwaukee Bucks (COO) and the St. Louis Blues (vice chairman).[9]

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.[10][11]

Early reception of Marquee was mixed by fans, culminating in fans booing Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts during the annual Cubs Convention in 2020 after mention of the new network.[12][13]

Marquee Sports Network officially launched on February 22, 2020 at 1 p.m. CT, with its first program being a launch special hosted by actor and Cubs fan Bill Murray, followed by a documentary on Ernie Banks. The channel aired its first live spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at Sloan Park later in the day; the game had been postponed from the afternoon due to the threat of rain.[1][14] However, because the start of the season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its first regular-season game was not until July 24, 2020.[15]

Marquee's Cubs broadcasts underwent tweaks for the 2021 season. Alongside its new play-by-play voice Jon Sciambi, the network would no longer require commentators to wear a suit and tie on-air (a mandate made during the inaugural season by executives insisting that Marquee's broadcasts have a "national network quality"), and replaced an unorthodox bottom-centered score bar it had used during the first season with a more traditional scoreboard in the top-left of the screen (a move which also differentiated Marquee from its newly-relaunched sister networks in the Bally Sports group, whose on-air branding was derived from that of Marquee, but with an equally-unorthodox integration of a scoreboard and ticker).[16]

The network would use the slogan "We get it" in a marketing campaign to promote the new Cubs season and these tweaks.[17][18][19]


The Cubs' previous television commentators Len Kasper (play-by-play) and Jim "J.D." Deshaies (color) retained their roles on Marquee at the channel's launch.[20] 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.[21] Cole Wright, formerly of NFL Network, will serve as studio host, and Taylor McGregor, formerly field reporter for the Colorado Rockies on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, will serve as field reporter.[22] The channel also brought on Bob Vorwald, former executive producer of WGN Sports.[1]

After the 2020 season, Kasper left the Cubs and Marquee to become the radio voice of the Chicago White Sox on WMVP.[23] Jon Sciambi, then a television and radio play-by-play voice on ESPN's MLB national broadcasts, was hired to replace Kasper.[24] Chris Myers, Beth Mowins, and longtime Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes will act as fill-in announcers when Sciambi is not available.[25]


Besides game broadcasts, Marquee will carry documentaries, game replays and player profiles, as well as coverage of minor league games.[22][1] The channel might attempt to pick up college basketball for the winter time.[26] Stadium and the Bally Sports networks would provide some programming.[1]

Individual programs
  • Cubs Live, pre-game[1]
  • Cubs Postgame Live[1]
  • Follow The Money, weekday morning sports betting show by Vegas Stats & Information Network hosted by Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard[27]
  • a unnamed local Chicago sports talk show produced by Stadium, a network partly owned by Sinclair[1]
Baseball team rights

Non baseball programming

Marquee Sports Network is an affiliate of the ACC on Regional Sports Networks package, airing select games especially during the baseball offseason. The network also carries select college sports programming from Stadium especially college football and college basketball. The network also has a contract with Illinois State University to air select college football and college basketball games.[28][29] Select Chicago Sky Games are also available on Marquee.

Broadcasting areas

Marquee is broadcast in five states, particularly Illinois (with the exception of Southern Illinois), most of Iowa, eastern Nebraska, all of Indiana except areas near the Ohio River, and Kenosha County, Wisconsin. The broadcasting areas for each state are listed below.








As of February 2020, Sinclair had secured distribution deals with Charter Communications, RCN, DirecTV, Mediacom, and Frontier Communications to carry Marquee Sports Network at launch.[1]

Upon the announcement of the channel, the network's ability to gain carriage was compared to the troubled negotiations of the Los Angeles Dodgers' SportsNet LA.[30] Industry observer Phillip Swan thought Marquee would have a "50-50 chance of working" while commenting "“How can you not look at the disaster of the SportsNet (LA) scene and not be a little skeptical?"[31] Charter has since come to terms with DirecTV to carry SportsNet LA.[32]

Industry experts predicted that Marquee would seek around $5 per subscriber placing it behind YES Network and ESPN.[31] Sinclair secured Marquee's first major carriage agreement with Charter Communications on July 11, 2019. As part of the multi-year carriage agreement, Marquee was bundled alongside Sinclair's owned-and-operated television stations, Tennis Channel and the regional Fox Sports Networks that Sinclair was in the process of buying from Disney at the time.[33]

On October 17, 2019, AT&T agreed to carry Marquee on its television services (including DirecTV, the second largest provider serving the region behind Comcast) as part of a larger, multi-year carriage agreement with Sinclair.[34][35] Sinclair later reached a deal with Mediacom on November 6, 2019 to carry Marquee Sports Network.[35] On February 17, 2020, the network announced an agreement to carry the network on Hulu's live streaming service.[36] On February 27, the network announced an agreement with WOW cable.[37]

Comcast, the largest television provider in the region (with an estimated 1.5 million subscribers),[38] reached an agreement to carry Marquee on July 24 (in time for the Cubs' opening game) as part of a larger renewal for Sinclair-owned television stations and cable networks.[39]

Until May 2022, Marquee's deal with DirecTV was for in-market coverage only. Unlike many other regional sports networks, Marquee was not included in DirecTV's Sports Pack, which carries RSNs nationwide with appropriate blackouts of professional events. That changed May 9, 2022, with the announcement that Marquee would be available nationwide with the Sports Pack, albeit with the appropriate blackouts.

Dish Network and YouTube TV (which has indicated they have no deal for Marquee's sister RSNs after February 29 and would remove them from the platform on that date) have not reached an agreement with Sinclair to carry Marquee Sports Network.[35]

Additionally, Marquee also has the rights to the games for the Cubs' Minor League Baseball clubs, including Des Moines's Iowa Cubs and the South Bend Cubs, ending deals with local broadcast subchannels to leverage Iowa and northern Indiana cable systems into carrying the network.[1]


  1. Lafayette, Jon (February 24, 2020). "Marquee Sports Network Steps Up to the Plate". Multichannel. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  2. "Cubs aim to launch own TV network by 2020". USA Today. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  3. Gonzales, Mark. "Cubs moving forward in quest for own TV network". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  4. Channick, Robert (May 24, 2019). "Diehards and Nonfans Alike to Foot the Bill for New Cubs Pay TV Network". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  5. "While Cubs prepare to launch Marquee, Hawks, Bulls & Sox return to NBCSCH". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  6. Bastian, Jordan (February 13, 2019). "Cubs to launch Marquee Sports Network". MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  7. Rosenthal, Phil. "The Cubs are starting a new TV channel in 2020. Here's what that means for fans". Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  8. Lafayette, Jon (May 22, 2019). "McCarthy Tapped to Run Sinclair's Cubs Network". Multichannel. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  9. Feder, Robert (May 22, 2019). "Cubs announce general manager for Marquee Sports Network". Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  10. Littleton, Cynthia (May 3, 2019). "Sinclair Clinches Disney-Regional Sports Networks Deal, Byron Allen Joins as Partner". Variety. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  11. "Sinclair completes acquisition of regional sports networks from Disney". Bloomberg. August 22, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  12. "Cubs fans voice frustration, boo Ricketts at Convention". NBC Sports Chicago. January 18, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  13. Swinton, Elizabeth. "Cubs Chairman Ricketts Booed at Convention". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  14. "Threat of rain forces Cubs to postpone Saturday's spring training opener". AZFamily. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  15. Sullivan, Paul. "Column: Opening day is finally here — and the Cubs already are making a lot of news". Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  16. Dachman, Jason. "How Sinclair Pulled Off the Gargantuan Bally Sports Networks Rebrand Amid the Pandemic". Sports Video Group. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  17. Greenberg, Jon. "Greenberg: Why are Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies in shirts and ties in the booth?". The Athletic. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  18. Greenberg, Jon. "A casual dress code, a new score bug and more changes in Cubs TV broadcasts: Dollars and sense". The Athletic. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  19. Yellon, Al (April 9, 2021). "Some thoughts about Marquee Sports Network's new scorebox and scoreboxes in general". Bleed Cubbie Blue. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  20. Sullivan, Paul (May 24, 2019). "The new Cubs TV boss has 8 months to figure out what Cubs fans want — and importantly, don't want — from the new network". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  21. Rosenthal, Phil (May 1, 2019). "David Kaplan renews with NBC Sports Chicago, ending speculation he might leave for Cubs TV channel: 'It was a no-brainer'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  22. "Marquee Sports Network announces Cubs broadcast on-air talent and additional programming". Awful Announcing. January 18, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  23. Feder, Robert (December 4, 2020). "Cubs TV announcer Len Kasper named radio voice of White Sox on ESPN 1000". Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  24. Lee, Maddie (January 4, 2021). "Jon Sciambi joins Marquee as new Cubs announcer". Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  25. Rosenthal, Phil (February 17, 2021). "Pat Hughes, Beth Mowins and Chris Myers will be the backup Chicago Cubs TV announcers on Marquee Sports Network". Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  26. Rogers, Jesse (February 13, 2019). "Cubs launching own 'Cubs-centric' network". Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  27. Feder, Robert (February 10, 2020). "Robservations: Marquee Sports Network to air VSiN's 'Follow the Money'". Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  28. "Illinois State Men's Basketball to Broadcast Five Games on Marquee Network". January 13, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  29. "Marquee Sports Network announces college sports programming". Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  30. Impey, Steven (February 14, 2019). "Chicago Cubs confirm exclusive RSN launch - SportsPro Media". SportsPro. Archived from the original on January 6, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  31. Strauss, Ben (February 13, 2019). "Cubs partnership could mark the start of Sinclair's push into sports programming". Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 8, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  32. Castillo, Jorge; Shaikin, Bill (April 1, 2020). "Dodgers TV blackout ends: Spectrum deal puts SportsNet LA on AT&T platforms". Los Angeles Times.
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  34. Lafayette, Jon (October 17, 2019). "Sinclair Reaches Agreement on Retransmission With AT&T". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on October 19, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  35. Taylor, Brett (November 6, 2019). "Good News: Another Carriage Deal in Place for Marquee Sports Network". Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  36. "Cubs Marquee Network will be available to Hulu+LiveTV subscribers in Midwest". WGN-TV. February 17, 2020. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  37. Farris, Gene (February 27, 2020). "Marquee Sports Network adds WOW cable provider to lineup". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
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