Cover, too: No Cubs games, but NBCSCH will ‘be all over’ team

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY JEFF AGREST, STAFF RE­PORTER ja­grest@sun­times.com | @jef­freya22

NBC Sports Chicago isn’t car­ry­ing Cubs games any­more, but it plans to have plenty of Cubs cov­er­age.

“We are go­ing to be all over the Cubs,” NBCSCH se­nior vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager Kevin Cross said.

NBCSCH was the Cubs’ cable home since the 2005 sea­son, when it was called Com­cast SportsNet. The Cubs launched their own chan­nel, Mar­quee Sports Net­work, in Fe­bru­ary af­ter NBCSCH re­launched in Oc­to­ber as the ex­clu­sive home for Black­hawks, Bulls and White Sox games.

The net­work’s mis­sion has been to cover all Chicago teams, whether it car­ries their games or not. By the look of its staffing, it will place as much of an em­pha­sis on the Cubs as it can.

It hired for­mer Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Gor­don Wit­ten­myer to lead its Cubs cov­er­age and added for­mer Ok­la­homa City Thun­der beat writer Mad­die Lee as a re­porter. Though their work will be seen mostly on the net­work’s web­site, they’ll make ap­pear­ances on “Base­ball Night in Chicago” and “Sport­sTalk Live.”

And NBCSCH still has the Mr. Cub of me­dia, “Sport­sTalk Live” host David Ka­plan, who signed a mul­ti­year con­tract with the net­work about a year ago.

“We com­mit­ted to Ka­plan be­cause we want to have some­one who is plugged into both the Cubs as a team but also the Cub fans,” Cross said. “So I’m happy with the Cubs con­tent team that we’ve built. Our strat­egy has al­ways been to build con­tent teams around the teams in our mar­ket.

“TV is su­per-im­por­tant to us. It’s still the No. 1 medium for get­ting con­tent. But one of the things that we’ve done over the past decade is we’ve tried to have a mul­ti­plat­form ap­proach.”

The ques­tion is whether fans will turn to NBCSCH for Cubs con­tent when there’s an­other chan­nel ded­i­cated to it. Cross knows fans will go where the games are, but he wants his net­work’s cov­er­age to be a draw. Still, he doesn’t see a ri­valry brew­ing with Mar­quee.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I be­lieve that our main pri­or­ity when it comes to tele­vis­ing the games — I’m not talk­ing about shoul­der pro­gram­ming — is to serve the fan that is watch­ing that game. And for us, we’re talk­ing to the White Sox fan.

“I don’t re­ally see it as a com­pe­ti­tion. If they were tele­vis­ing the same game we were tele­vis­ing, I think that prob­a­bly I would view it a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. But I think the fan bases tend to be dif­fer­ent from each other. That’s part of it right there.”

SUN-TIMES

NBCSCH doesn’t have Cubs games any­more, but it does have the Mr. Cub of me­dia, David Ka­plan.

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