Sinclair Broadcast Group has taken the next steps toward the completion of the rebranding of its Fox Sports network. Starting this year, Sinclair will begin converting its Fox Sports channels to Bally Sports, the result of a partnership between the nationwide TV network owner and Bally’s Corp. that was announced earlier this year.
New marketing campaigns are being launched to promote the rebranding and, by the end of this year, Sinclair’s 21 Fox Sports regional sports networks (RSN) will no longer exist.
Sports and Sports Gambling Continue To Merge
Last November, Sinclair revealed that it had partnered with Bally’s in a naming rights agreement worth $88 million. The ten-year agreement will officially begin as of March 31, just ahead of Opening Day in MLB, and is an example of the strong connection now seen between sports and sports gambling.
Once the transition is complete, it is expected that all of the regional sports networks operating under the Bally brand will begin to include more sports gambling-related content in their coverage.
To promote the effort, Sinclair is going to spend over $10 million this year to market the new Bally Sports networks. Additional promotions will appear through Sinclair’s other properties, including on some TV stations that share geographic coverage with the new Bally channels. According to John Zeigler, Sinclair’s chief marketing officer, this will include marketing campaigns seen on the Tennis channel, the company’s STIRR digital streaming service, and more.
Sinclair Bets On Sports Gambling’s Future
In 2019, The Walt Disney Co. agreed to shed its Fox Sports RSNs, selling them to Sinclair for $10 billion. COVID-19 may have forced some delay in the company’s ability to start and see a return on the investment last year, but Sinclair will now be able to start enjoying the benefits.
In addition to the Bally rebranding, the RSNs cover 16 NBA teams, 14 MLB teams, 12 NHL teams and over 4,500 live sports events each year. When the rebranding is complete, Bally Sport will include 19 RSNs, including two new full-time channels, Fox Sports Tennessee and Fox Sports Carolinas. These two are owned by Diamond Sports Group, a joint venture created by Sinclair with Entertainment Studios.
Many sports broadcasters have begun to offer sports gambling coverage, including the introduction of odds, lines analysis, projections and more. The merger between sports and sports gambling is happening at a rapid pace as more states move to establish legal sports gambling markets and the arrangement between Sinclair and Bally’s highlights the important role sports gambling plays in providing better coverage of sports events.
Going forward, Sinclair expects to introduce a completely new media brand to focus on local sports coverage, including it in a new Bally Sports-branded mobile app that the company is developing.