The Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement with streaming service FuboTV, giving it a second over-the-top provider one day before Opening Day. Marquee had been available only on AT&T TV among streamers.
FuboTV is a sports-focused service with about 90 channels, including local channels, 30 of the top 35 cable channels and regional sports networks, according to the website The Streamable, which tracks and reports on the steaming industry.
“We are thrilled to have fuboTV offering Marquee Sports Network to Cubs fans. FuboTV has prioritized live sports, and we look forward to them carrying Cubs baseball all season long,” Marquee Sports Network general manager Mike McCarthy said.
FuboTV normally costs $64.99 per month and offers add-on packages. In the Chicago market, all subscribers will pay an additional $6 regional sports fee. In the coming weeks, Marquee will be available in fuboTV’s basic English language channel package in the Chicago area and surrounding regions, including Indianapolis, South Bend, Indiana, and Des Moines, Iowa.
In Chicago, FuboTV already carries ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo and Univision affiliates, as well as ESPN, FS1, CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network and NHL Network among many others.
According to the company, it had 548,000 paid subscribers at the end of 2020, representing a 73% year-over-year increase and exceeding its expectations of up to 510,000 subscribers by the end of the year. AT&T TV reported it had 656,000 subscribers in September.
Hulu Live TV (4 million), YouTube TV (3 million) and Sling TV (2.47 million) are the top three live-TV streaming services in terms of subscribers. Marquee, which is owned jointly by the Cubs and Sinclair, was on Hulu Live TV last season but was dropped in October.
RSNs have had problems appearing on the top streaming services. The 19 former Fox regional sports networks that Sinclair owns – which were rebranded as Bally Sports on Wednesday – also aren’t on Hulu, YouTube or Sling. They’re only on AT&T TV.
Streaming services differentiate themselves from cable and satellite providers by their price. They generally have one tier of programming, and because they don’t have the volume of channels that cable and satellite do, they cost much less. They also rarely have the RSN fees that accompany linear TV.
Marquee and other RSNs can’t cut the streamers a break because of what’s called a “most favored nation” clause, which prevents programmers from giving one provider a better deal than another. Also, programmers such as Sinclair don’t have the leverage with streamers that they do with other providers. In fact, Hulu dropped Sinclair’s 23 CBS affiliates for six weeks before reaching an agreement in January.
Fubo launched as a soccer streaming service in 2015 and began broadcasting all sports in 2017 before becoming a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD).
LARGEST LIVE-TV STREAMING SERVICES IN U.S. (most recent reports)
1. Hulu Live TV ($64.99/month): 4 million
2. YouTube TV ($64.99): 3 million
3. Sling TV ($35): 2.47 million
4. Philo ($20): 800,000
5. AT&T TV ($64.99): 656,000
6. Fubo TV ($64.99): 548,000