WGN-AM general manager Tom Langmyer
Just this week, nearly nine months after The Tribune Company announced plans to sell the Chicago Cubs to the Ricketts family and Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, comes an announcement that the deal is finally finished. It is widely believed that one of the issues that caused the negotiations to drag on for so long and eventually resulted in a significant overall price reduction was the value of the radio and television broadcast rights.
Tribune has been in a unique situation owning the team and Chicago TV and radio outlets. That has enabled the company to maximize revenues for the stations by broadcasting the lucrative games without having to pay the usual rights fees most teams charge the stations that carry their games.
Now, Tribune has announced that the sale terms are finalized with the value estimated to be around $850 million, a full $50 million less than originally anticipated. Most likely, that discount is due to the broadcast rights staying with WGN radio and television. WGN-AM general manager Tom Langmyer has been quoted as saying the station will remain as the radio home of the Cubs “for many years to come.”
The television side may not remain as clear cut. Part of the sale to the Ricketts family includes a 25% ownership interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago which already airs some of the Cubs games, with the others airing on Tribune’s WGN television station. That could mean the Ricketts have incentive to move more games off the Tribune TV station and onto the regional cable channel.