Q. I know Sinclair is changing the name of its Fox sports channels to Bally and they plan to offer betting and other things. Don’t you think this will push Sinclair to end its blackouts with Hulu and the other TV services? They need them now more than ever, right? — Tom, Mesa, Arizona.
Tom, Sinclair owns 21 Fox-named regional sports channels which have the TV rights to scores of NBA, NHL and MLB games in the regions they are based. But the company has announced it will rename the channels to Bally Sports. For example, Fox Sports Arizona, which offers Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes and Phoenix Suns games where you live in Mesa, will become Bally Sports Arizona.
At some point, Sinclair will also incorporate a betting feature during the games. (Bally is a casino) that will enable viewers to wager on everything from who wins the game to which player gets the most hits or scores the points.
Click Amazon: See Today’s 1-Day-Only Sales!
“Our ultimate goal here is to make watching sports as entertaining as playing a videogame,” Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley recently told The Wall Street Journal.
The introduction of in-game betting could revolutionize the way we watch sports, and the way companies such as Sinclair generate revenue. Bally is paying Sinclair $88 million over 10 years for the naming rights, and the waging feature could add much more.
So it’s logical to assume that Sinclair will modify its carriage terms and do whatever is necessary to persuade YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Fubo TV, and Dish (which owns Sling TV) to start carrying the regional sports channels. (The five TV services do not offer the Fox regionals due to separate carriage disputes with Sinclair.) With Bally on board, and betting coming, Sinclair needs the biggest audience it can get to generate the most revenue, right?
Well, not quite, at least not yet. For starters, Sinclair has not said exactly when the channels will be renamed to Bally nor when in-game wagering will be added. The company has simply said it will be “in the coming months.” That could be this spring, summer, or even the fall. Consequently, Sinclair is not under greater pressure now to expand its audience. It has some time to play with, so to speak.
(Sinclair has also said it plans to launch its own app this spring that will include regional broadcasts and betting, although it has not offered an exact launch date. The standalone app could further complicate its negotiations with the five TV services.)
Second, Sinclair has established the current carriage terms for a reason: They make economic sense for the company.
Don’t forget Sinclair has to pay the leagues an exorbitant amount of money for those regional TV rights. The carriage fees help offset those expenditures. If Sinclair lowers them now, it would eventually have to lower them for everyone. Although the company expects to generate more revenue “in the coming months,” it doesn’t want to leave money on the table now. It would be wiser to keep their current rates and hope that the popularity of in-game wagering will ultimately compel all TV services to pay up.
Bottom line: I don’t see Sinclair’s partnership with Bally changing the dynamic here anytime soon. If the live streaming services add the regional sports channels in the coming days, or even weeks, it will be because of pressure from subscribers who want to watch their home town teams, not Bally and betting.
Need to buy something today? Please buy it using the Amazon.com links on this page. This site receives a small portion of each purchase, which helps us continue to provide these articles.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann
Isn’t there laws in some states about wagering or betting? I thought there was, but am not sure.
I certainly understand what you’re saying about Sinclair not wanting to lower their rates, but they’re not making any money off these companies currently because they all dropped the RSNs. Wouldn’t it make more sense to come to some sort of compromise in order to get all these subscribers back and hope that when they roll out the rebranded networks with gambling that they attract a large number of current subscribers? Because right now nobody is going to bother with them. I’m perfectly happy listening to my teams on IHeart radio rather than paying a ton more $$ to find a service that offers me my RSNs.
I agree with you. I am going to hold out keeping my YouTube TV and listening to Hockey and baseball on the radio in hopes that one day Sinclair and YouTube TV can come to some type of agreement. I do miss watching the St. Louis Blues, but I can only spend so much money.
I have Hulu Live tv and feel that since Sinclair lost over $4billion in the 4th Quarter last year. Hulu will come to a rate increase compromise with Sinclair because Sinclair needs the streaming carrier subscribers the hook is that in the end there will be an agreed upon rate that is slightly higher to the carriers than what they agreed to earlier but they will more than likely put the Regional Sports Channels back on from intense pressure from the subscribers. With Gambling options, more younger viewers with more disposable income will join just for the sports networks.
I hope Sinclair comes out with a $5.99/month streaming option where you get access to all of their RSN games. Paying $90+ tax a month for AT&T TV Now so I can watch Lightning hockey is absurd. A $0.99/game PPV would also be good… but it would be great to see Sinclair bypass all the Big Tech and Big Cable packages that make you buy Lifetime, CNN, and Comedy Central just so you get access hockey; though sadly I’d still need to have access to a stream option that carries NGB Sports while it’s still around.
Why rename Foxsports in ballysports is not good name four sportschannels
Fox no longer owns the RSNs, and Sinclair doesn’t want to promote a competing conglomerate. Bally is a name they already own and they want to push gambling in order to make more money from sporting events.
Does Sinclair own Bally or was it just a partnership to use the name and incorporate the gambling ideas?
Owns the Bally Sports channels, not Bally the company.
Glad to see Sinclair has nothing over time Warner and their LA dodger debacle. Let’s pay too much for rights and have no one watch…makes perfect sense. This streaming thing will never catch on.
It all comes down to this. The NFL, NBA, nor the MLB care about you the fan. Money is all they care about. The city in which these teams are playing in force you to pay for their stadiums through taxation. Add extra fees (taxes) to the hotel and restaurant industry for those going to a game from out of town. Only to be told that the game is blackout due to restrictions. Folks that live in and around those stadiums should not have any restrictions. They own that stadium.
Sinclair’s pricing has cost them something like 10 million potential viewers. The AT&T packages are all far too high for most streamers.. So they are sill upside down in viewers. People in my locale have stopped watching NBA at home rather than pay the extra money.
Unless this changes that Sinclair is still in deep water, IMHO.
Just a warning to those out there trying to find an option other than AT&T TV and their two year contract. We purchased MLB TV in the hopes of seeing the Tigers play once in a while. We were able to watch some of the spring training games, but our regular season games were all blacked out. I have since cancelled that subscription and demanded a refund, but I’d hate to see anyone else waste their time doing the same. Seems our team has very little interest in their fans watching their games. I will not be switching to a contracted streaming service, especially when I know how AT&T operates, and they like to up their prices regularly.
That’s where the VPN comes in. So, if you want to go that route you’ll have to get a VPN. If you get a good one, you’ll probably have to pay for it. I went your route last year and got screwed. No refunds from MLB.
I am super pissed. I switched to Dish and upgraded to the NHL Network to make sure I would be able to watch the Wild. I was ensured I would be by the rep and the installer. Nobody said anything about blackouts. 💩😡