When fans of several WNBA teams watch their teams ball out in 2021, they will be doing so on networks that no longer carry the “Fox Sports” name.
For those that do not know, the Fox Sports regional sports channels are no longer owned and operated by 21st Century Fox proper. They sold those RSNs to Sinclair Broadcasting as a condition of 21st Century Fox being bought out by the Walt Disney Company. Among its properties are a couple of moderately-known channels – ABC and ESPN. You may have heard of them once or twice.
Since then, intrigue has been abound throughout the sports media industry as to what Sinclair would rebrand the networks as since they could not keep the Fox Sports name. Some speculation was that they would simply be rebranded as “Diamond Sports” – the name of Sinclair’s sports division or “Stadium” – Sinclair’s 24/7 sports news channel.
Over a year after purchasing the 21 Fox Sports regional sports networks, Sinclair has a deal with casino operator Bally’s Corp. to rename them Bally Sports.
Bally’s will reportedly pay Sinclair $85 million over 10 years for the naming rights.https://t.co/wH0NP5VDYZ
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) November 19, 2020
Sinclair did a deal with a Las Vegas casino operator – Bally’s – where it will pay Sinclair $85 million over 10 years for the naming rights. The deal will add a significant sports gambling component to the regional sports channels and will be promoted among several of Sinclair’s other sports properties. These include Stadium and the Tennis Channel.
Five WNBA teams had games aired on Fox Sports-branded regional sports networks in the 2020 wubble season – those were the Phoenix Mercury (FS Arizona), Minnesota Lynx (FS North), Dallas Wings (FS Southwest), Indiana Fever (FS Indiana) and Atlanta Dream (FS South/Southeast). The Dream returned to Fox Sports South/Southeast this past season after a season in 2019 in which their games were aired on the digital platforms of WSB-TV.
Sinclair also has a stake in YES Network, which airs New York Liberty games via its main channel and the Fox Sports Go App.
Those channels will likely be rebranded as Bally Sports Arizona, Bally Sports North, Bally Sports Southwest, Bally Sports Indiana, Bally Sports South/Southeast, etc. So in 2021, if one is wondering about the unorthodox names for your team’s RSN – there is why.