Marquee Sports Network Reaches Carriage Deal with WOW!

Marquee Sports Network has reached a carriage agreement with WOW!, a cable and broadband company offering coverage in nearly 20 metro areas around the country. One of the leading providers in the Chicagoland market, WOW! likely saw an opportunity to capitalize on Comcast’s continued absence.

“WOW! is the fourth largest provider in Chicago and an important part of our distribution landscape, and we are pleased to have them join the more than 40 carriage partners who have already signed on with Marquee Sports Network,” Marquee Sports Network GM Mike McCarthy said in a press release.

While it’s still possible that something gets done to put Marquee on Xfinity by the start of the regular season, it’s been clear since at least September that both sides were ready for a lengthy negotiation process. Enter WOW!, which plans to offer Marquee starting on March 13, almost two weeks ahead of Opening Day. Because it’s just a regional carrier, WOW! can be a little more nimble an innovative with moves like this.

As television consumption becomes increasingly commoditized, the carriers that will win are those that can best evolve to meet customers’ needs. That could mean getting out in front of the cord-cutting movement by offering streaming options, something WOW! is beta-testing in its Charleston, SC market.

“WOW! has entered into agreements with top streaming companies, fuboTV, Philo, Sling TV and YouTube TV to make using a live TV streaming service easy for our customers who choose this option,” Scott Barton, senior vice president of product for WOW! explained. “We’re very excited about helping our customers cut the cord and make the shift to streaming services.”

The Marquee deal is another example of WOW! trying to add a little enticement as a differentiator, though it’s a very limited play from a geographical standpoint. Of the 19 markets WOW! serves nationwide, only Chicagoland exists within the bounds of the Cubs’ regional broadcast territory. There are no other markets in Illinois or Iowa, and Evansville, IN falls outside the zone.

If nothing else, this is something for Comcast and DISH Network subscribers to note as spring training wears on. The latter has expressed a distaste for regional sports networks in general and might not care about getting anything done, but the former could start feeling a little heat as the threat of missing real games draws nigh.

For a full list of providers, including FAQ and channel finder, check out Marquee’s website.

Just in case you were wondering, this carrier is not to be confused with the Woow service operated by Miguel Montero.

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