Bally’s-Sinclair Pact Takes Fox Out Of Your Go-To Sports Channels

Posted By Russ Mitchell on April 14, 2021

The same teams are on the same channels, but Bally Sports branding gives Iowa sports fans a new look when they tune in or log on for a game.

As of March 31, 19 Fox Sports regional networks became Bally Sports networks. (“Fox Sports North” became “Bally Sports North,” as one example.)

Here’s a rundown of the regional rebranding:

  • Bally Sports Kansas City — has rights to Kansas City Royals (MLB) and Kansas City Sporting KC (MLS)
  • Bally Sports Midwest — has rights to St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) and St. Louis Blues (NHL)
  • Bally Sports North — has rights to Minnesota Twins (MLB), Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), Minnesota Wild (NHL), Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) and Minnesota United FC (MLS)
  • Bally Sports Wisconsin — has rights to Milwaukee Brewers (MLB) and Milwaukee Bucks (NBA)

The Marquee Sports Network is the regional sports network (RSN) for MLB’s Chicago Cubs. NBC Sports Chicago is the RSN for the Chicago White Sox (MLB), Bulls (NBA) and Blackhawks (NHL).

From Fox to Disney, then to Sinclair

A 2019 entertainment acquisition actually forced ESPN’s parent company, Disney, to flip the regional sports networks over to a third party. Disney won US approval to buy Twenty-First Century Fox, including the X-Men and Star Wars franchises, two years ago.

The Justice Department would only approve the acquisition if Disney agreed to sell the RSNs as part of the deal, however.

Regulators didn’t want the company behind ESPN to monopolize the sports programming landscape. Federal officials felt Disney would have too much leverage as they set carriage rates for cable and satellite providers.

Disney announced the sale of its regional sports networks plus Fox College Sports to Sinclair Broadcasting in May 2019 to comply with the conditions.

Sinclair channels get Bally’s branding

Sinclair then reached out to sportsbooks about naming rights to the nationwide system of networks. They found a partner in Bally’s Hotels and Casinos and made the switch in time for baseball’s opening day.

Bally’s Cooperation president and CEO George Papanier said:

“Rolling out Bally’s iconic logo across Sinclair’s regional sports networks is a rewarding first step in a transformational partnership. That is going to revolutionize the US sports betting, gaming and media industries. We look forward to integrating Bally’s unique content — including the award-winning daily fantasy sports platform we are acquiring from Monkey Knife Fight — across Sinclair’s live game day coverage and providing unrivaled sports gamification on a national scale.”

Will Iowans see a Bally Bet app?

On Monday, Sinclair and Bally’s Corporation announced another layer of collaboration.

The sides will work together on Bally’s-centered programming when games aren’t live on the regional sports networks.

The memorandum of understanding lays the groundwork for Ballys to create a Bally Bet app as well. The companies have a goal to make live sports programming on the regional sports networks more interactive.

Soo Kim, chairman of Bally’s Corporation’s board of directors, said:

“We look forward to continuing to create lean-in experiences for sports fans across the nation as our content strategy continues to expand.”

Bally’s currently has a sportsbook footprint in Iowa through its agreement with Elite Sportsbook and Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood, IA.

Photo by Dreamstime.com
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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