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Cubs executive: TV network still the plan; in-market streaming is coming

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs are confident that in-market streaming for some of their games in 2016 will be available while still keeping an eye on launching their own television network after their current deals expire.

“Right now we control launching our own network in 2020,” president of business operations Crane Kenney said Saturday at the Cubs' fan convention. “As we have conversations, which are ongoing, if someone offers us something dramatically better we’ll look at it.”

Creating their own network could involve building studio space, which means they may have a decision on their future by 2018. Already available next season will be a “showcase studio” at the offices going up next to Wrigley Field where pregame and postgame shows can originate from.

“We would really be looking to launch something in 2018,” Kenney said. “Depends on studio space.”

The TV situation is fluid considering the changes in technology and watching habits. More people are getting rid of cable, for example.

“We love the trajectory of sports rights,” Kenney said. “[But] we watch with a very wary eye what’s going on in the cable universe.”

As for streaming games, Kenney believes a national deal with Comcast will pave the way for games on that station to be seen online though Major League Baseball blackout rules would still apply. In other words, if you’re able to watch Cubs games on ComcastSportsNet in your area you’ll be able to stream the games as well.

“Pretty confident we’re going to have streaming in 2016,” Kenney said. “So local games will be available on mobile devices.”