Updated: June 5, 2014 7:31PM
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have announced a new broadcast rights deal with a CBS-owned station.
The agreement ends the team’s partnership with WGN Radio, which was one of the longest such relationships in broadcast history.
Cubs and CBS Radio officials announced the deal Thursday at a Wrigley Field news conference. It will begin with the 2015 season.
Under the multi-year deal, WBBM-AM will broadcast regular-season and postseason games in addition to some spring training games.
Broadcasters Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer will handle the play-by-play and game-day analysis.
The team and the station will also produce live concerts at Wrigley.
The deal will include promotional initiatives spanning all seven of CBS Radio’s Chicago stations as well as its digital and social media platforms.
Cubs sweeten deal with equal partnership on Wrigley Field concerts
A significant element of the deal that seems to provide greater revenue upside is the expanded, 50-50 partnership on concert staging and promotion, making it an “apples to oranges” comparison to WGN’s deal, according to CBS Radio marketing manager Rod Zimmerman.
Kenney said an existing, more limited, partnership on country music concerts at Wrigley will expand to include events “across all music genres,” and presumably significantly add to the number of concerts annually at the ballpark.
“Nobody in Chicago has more access to more talent and the top artists than CBS Radio,” Kenney said.
CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason compared it to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert staged at Barclay Center in New York, coinciding with this year’s Super Bowl, as an extension of the network’s rights deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
“Maybe that would not have happened in the previous thinking of, `OK, we’re going to be the flagship station of the Brooklyn Nets and we’re going to carry Nets games,’ “ Mason said. “It’s like, ‘OK, what else can you do? You have a fan base, and the Nets have a fan base, so what can we create together?’
“It’s the same theory, what we’re talking with Crane and his team about. How can we take our existing listeners and create new partnerships from, in this case, seven great brand names?’
— Gordon Wittenmyer