Marquee Sports Network announced today that DirecTV will carry the channel nationwide.
This obviously doesn’t include live Cubs games, nor will it include live Chicago Sky action. Marquee, a joint partnership between the Cubs and Sinclair, will instead offer the rest of their shoulder and studio programming to the national audience.
From the network release:
DIRECTV, which already carries Marquee Sports Network on channel 664 within the Cubs television territory, will now offer Marquee to consumers across the country, carrying all programming except for live regular season Cubs and Sky games, as well as select local sports programming.
“We are thrilled to now offer Marquee Sports Network to DIRECTV and its customers across the country, giving Cubs fans access to all of our unique programming and studio content,” said Marquee Sports Network General Manager Mike McCarthy. “Our goal has always been to deliver Cubs content, as well as all of our programming, to fans nationwide and we’re thankful for this expanded carriage agreement with DIRECTV.”
“The addition of Marquee to DIRECTV’s Sports Tier further cements our leadership position in regional sports networks across all pay TV providers,” said Rob Thun, Chief Content Officer, DIRECTV. “It also gives passionate, displaced Cubs fans nationwide access to popular team content not available elsewhere.”
The key question: who does this benefit, and how? The Cubs do qualify as a national fanbase, of course. The lack of live out-of-market access, though, means that this news is pretty much only for out-of-market Cubs fans who are also DirecTV subscribers who want to watch a lot of auxiliary Cubs programming. It’s not nothing! For some people in that Venn Diagram this is going to be a nice option to have in their channel guide. And if MLB’s blackout rules change in the future, Marquee would obviously be well-positioned to take advantage.
Still, for the wider audience, this isn’t going to make much of a difference. Marquee gets to claim presence in a bigger number of households, but this also feels like pretty hollow distribution news for in-market fans who subscribe to streaming providers who still don’t have the ability to legally watch games.
Then again, the Cubs are pretty bad right now, so maybe distribution news that doesn’t involve more people being able to watch live games is actually a feel-good story.