Marquee Sports Network continues to add Chicago-centric sports programming, announcing a deal with reigning WNBA’s Chicago Sky for a package of televised games.
In addition to the cable broadcasts, the remainder of the reigning WNBA champions’ games will stream on Marquee Plus, available at no cost to authenticated Marquee subscribers. Marquee’s coverage will feature Lisa Byington on play-by-play, with a rotating group of analysts including John Ross, Jr., Stephen Bardo, and Meghan McKeown.
From the Marquee release:
Marquee Sports Network and the Chicago Sky today announced a multi-year broadcast partnership, providing live television broadcasts of up to 16 Chicago Sky games, as well as the streaming of all non-nationally televised games through Marquee Plus, a dedicated streaming channel available for authenticated Marquee subscribers through the Marquee Sports Network app.
The locally televised games not picked up live on Marquee Sports Network due to coverage of Chicago Cubs games will also be carried by WCIU-TV in addition to Marquee Plus.
Chicago Sky games will feature the broadcast team of Lisa Byington (play-by-play), Jason Ross Jr. (play-by-play), Stephen Bardo (analyst) and Meghan McKeown (analyst).
The move is a natural expansion for Marquee, which clearly has designs on being more than just the “Chicago Cubs” network. They’ve already added shoulder programming covering the Chicago Bears, and are clearly interested in adding to their inventory.
That said, there are still plenty of issues with the Sinclair-Cubs joint venture. Distribution is a chief one; as with most Sinclair RSNs, it’s not available on most streaming platforms (YouTube TV, etc.) and that’s a killer for younger viewers. There’s also the fact that plenty of big Cubs-related events, like press conferences, don’t end up carried on the network, which is pretty inexcusable.
Adding WNBA rights is obviously a good thing, too, but there’s the issue of the calendar. The WNBA season runs from May to October, which obviously overlaps entirely with the MLB season. (Though the Sky are much more likely than the Cubs to be playing into October this season.)