cUBS

Willson Contreras bats in an empty stadium at summer camp on July 15.

Things may not be as bad as feared by Chicago Cubs fans who subscribe to television services that aren’t carrying Marquee Sports Network, the new channel the team and Sinclair Broadcast Group launched.

Despite Marquee being the “exclusive” TV home of Cubs baseball in the club’s multi-state TV market (as designated by Major League Baseball), it appears more than 20% of their 60 games in the abbreviated 2020 season will be available via other channels.

For real.

There are at least 13 games that will be available in the Cubs market away from Marquee.

Start with the Cubs’ six games vs. the White Sox, Aug. 21-23 and Sept. 25-27. They’ll be on NBC Sports Chicago, the Sox’s home.

Add ESPN’s two Cubs games vs. the Cardinals on “Sunday Night Baseball” Aug. 9 in St. Louis and Sept. 6 at Wrigley Field.

Then there are the games Fox-32 has on its schedule: July 25 vs. the Brewers with new Bulls TV voice Adam Amin on the call (that will be simulcast on FS1) and Aug. 6 at the Royals.

Those games are important as they’re the only two games that fans who don’t subscribe to a cable, satellite or streaming service can access for free with over-the-air antennas.

But wait, there’s more.

FS1 has three more Cubs games on tap — Aug. 11 at the Indians, Aug. 18 vs. the Cardinals and Aug. 24 at the Tigers — and they won’t be blacked out locally despite Marquee also presenting them.

What’s more, Fox Sports still could add more Cubs games to its broadcast and cable slate in September.

If your carrier is Dish or Sling TV, which also look as though it won’t be carrying some of those games, this may not amount to much of a revelation.

But knowing these 13 games are out there may reduce anxiety for those Cubs fans who don’t want to change service providers yet are concerned their company has no agreement with the network, as of this writing.

(Not mentioning any specific companies, but one might rhyme with “Mom Last” or maybe “Boo Rube TV.” Those who subscribe to “Wish...,” er, Dish Network and Sling TV still may be out of luck as they’ve taken a hard stand in a bid to rein in the cost of sports channels.)

And for Cubs fans who live outside the team’s market — a vast territory that includes not only most of Illinois and Indiana but all of Iowa and part of Wisconsin and beyond — here’s another reminder Marquee’s carriage agreements won’t affect your access to games.

Cubs baseball will remain available outside Marquee’s coverage area through baseball’s various MLB subscription services, national outlets and, where applicable, the Cubs’ opponent in one’s home market, as usual.

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(c)2020 the Chicago Tribune

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