Bally Sports Regional Networks
TypeRegional sports network group
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaAvailable in most markets
(through regional affiliates)
Programming
Language(s)English
Picture format720p (HDTV)
Ownership
Owner
ParentDiamond Sports Group
Key peopleAlvin Kwan (SVP, Strategy & Business Operations)
Sister channelsTennis Channel
History
LaunchedMarch 31, 2021 (3 years ago) (2021-03-31)
ReplacedFox Sports Networks
Links
Websiteballysports.com
Availability
Streaming media
Service(s)DirecTV Stream, FuboTV

The Bally Sports Regional Networks[1] are a group of regional sports networks in the United States owned by Diamond Sports Group, a joint-venture company of the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Allen Media Group. The naming rights to the network were sold to casino operator Bally's Corporation.

The networks were formerly known as Fox Sports Networks and operated by News Corporation for most of their existence. They were acquired by Diamond Sports from The Walt Disney Company in 2019, as Disney was required to divest them by the U.S. Department of Justice as a condition of their own acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

Launched on March 31, 2021, the networks carry regional broadcasts of sporting events from various professional, collegiate and high school sports teams. Through its owned-and-operated networks and several other affiliates, Bally Sports programming is available to all or part of at least 33 states.

History

Beginnings

Main articles: Fox Sports Networks and Acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney

The networks of Bally Sports have a long history, with the origins of several of the networks dating to the 1980s and 1990s, as affiliates of the Prime Network (and to a lesser degree SportsChannel). In 1996, News Corporation and Liberty Media (the owner of Prime Network) announced that the Prime Sports networks would be rebranded under the new "Fox Sports Net" brand;[2] the Prime Sports-branded affiliates were officially relaunched as Fox Sports Net on November 1 of that year.[3][4][5] In 1997, News Corp and Liberty Media also purchased a 40% stake in Cablevision/NBC's SportsChannel networks which led those networks being rebranded as part of Fox Sports Net in early 1998 and bringing the total number of owned or affiliate networks to 18.[6][7][8][9] In the years that followed, a series of other acquisitions and launches of new networks (along with a few closures) resulted in 22 owned and operated networks.

Acquisition by Diamond Sports Group from Disney

On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced their intent to acquire 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion after the spin-off of certain businesses into a new entity (initially dubbed "new Fox", but ultimately named Fox Corporation). While the acquisition was originally slated to include Fox Sports' regional operations (which, presumably, would have been re-aligned with Disney's ESPN division),[10][11] the Justice Department ordered that they be divested within 90 days of the completion of the acquisition due to the concentration of the market that ESPN would hold.[12][13]

Sinclair Broadcast Group was mentioned as the most likely buyer for the other FSN networks, but would need the assistance of a private equity firm to help raise the cash needed for the purchase.[14][15] The group's other sports properties included Stadium—a national sports network distributed via over-the-air digital television and internet streaming, Tennis Channel, as well as Marquee—a then-upcoming RSN devoted to the Chicago Cubs.[16]

On May 3, Sinclair officially announced that via its subsidiary Diamond Sports Group, it had agreed to purchase the networks for $10.6 billion, pending regulatory approval. At the same time, it was also revealed that Allen Media Group would hold an equity stake in the company and serve as a "content partner".[17]

The sale was completed on August 22, 2019 and included 21 of the 22 networks. The networks continued to temporarily use the Fox Sports branding under a transitional license agreement with Fox Corporation; Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley stated that there were plans to eventually rebrand them under either a new name, or to "partner with a brand who wants more exposure". There were also plans to increase non-event programming, and emphasis on sports betting in its programming.[18]

Due to a clause in the original sale,[19] Yankee Global Enterprises had a right of first refusal to purchase Fox's share in YES Network.[20] On August 29, 2019, an investor group including the Yankees, Sinclair, Amazon, and The Blackstone Group purchased Disney's 80% stake in the network for $3.47 billion.[21] Sinclair's share of the network is 20%.[22]

FuboTV dropped the channels in January 2020,[23] and YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV followed in October 2020.[24][25] On November 4, 2020, Sinclair took a $4.23 billion write-down on the FSN purchase.[26]

Rebranding as Bally Sports

On November 17, 2020, it was reported by Sportico that Sinclair was considering rebranding the networks via a naming rights agreement, and was reportedly in talks with multiple companies involved in sports betting.[27] The next day, Sinclair announced that it had entered into an agreement with casino operator Bally's Corporation to acquire the naming rights under a 10-year deal. This agreement will include integration of Bally's content on the channels and other Sinclair properties (including its television stations Stadium and Tennis Channel), and a warrant giving Sinclair the option to acquire a 14.9% stake in Bally's Corporation, and up to 24.9% if performance criteria are met.[28]

On January 27, 2021, Sinclair announced that the networks would be rebranded as Bally Sports on March 31.[29] Fox Sports Carolinas and Fox Sports Tennessee were discontinued, with any unique sports programming moved to the Bally Sports South and Southeast channels. To better reflect their target markets, Prime Ticket and SportsTime Ohio were also rebranded as Bally Sports SoCal and Bally Sports Great Lakes, respectively.[30][31]

In preparation for the rebrand, new studio sets were constructed at all of FSN's outlets, while Drive Studio produced a new on-air graphics package built upon its existing work for Marquee. On-air graphics feature a new consistent scorebug in the bottom-left of the screen, which is combined into the ticker. Executive vice president Michael Connelly explained that the setup was designed to eventually allow for the integration of sports betting-related information such as lines and props.[32][33]

On Opening Day, the newly rebranded channels aired a joint special, Bally Sports Big Opening Day. It was produced by Stadium, hosted by Michael Kim, Bally Sports SoCal's Kristina Pink and Bally Sports Southeast's Eric Collins, and featured coverage of teams and events across Bally Sports and Sinclair's sports networks.[34]

On June 23, 2022, Bally Sports soft-launched a direct-to-consumer service known as Bally Sports Plus (or Bally Sports+) in selected markets. It launched nationally in the remainder of the networks' footprint on September 26.[35]

Bankruptcy

Further information: Diamond Sports Group § Bankruptcy

On February 15, 2023, Diamond Sports Group, the owner of Bally Sports, failed to make a $140 million interest payment, instead opting for a 30-day grace period to make the payment.[36] On March 14, 2023, Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; its restructuring plan included a proposal for the company to be separated from the Sinclair Broadcast Group into a standalone company.[37]

During its bankruptcy, Diamond has missed payments to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball (MLB), the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and to Raycom Sports for its ACC on Regional Sports Networks package and the Orange Bowl for its Orange Bowl Classic men's college basketball tournament.[38][39][40][41][42][43][44] Diamond also entered grace periods for their payments to the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds of MLB, which they eventually made.[45][46]

On May 31, 2023, Diamond officially missed a second payment to the Padres, and the Padres' television rights were returned to Major League Baseball. Because Bally Sports San Diego, which aired Padres games, is a joint venture between the Padres and Diamond it is technically not in bankruptcy. Therefore, this missed payment did not have the same bankruptcy protections that Diamond's other missed payments had.[47][48] On June 1, 2023, after a two-day long hearing, the bankruptcy judge ordered Diamond to pay the other Major League Baseball teams they missed payments to fully within five days.[49] Bally Sports gave up the rights to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 18, 2023.[50] Furthermore, with Bally Sports Arizona also losing local broadcast rights to both the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury to Gray Television (via KTVK and KPHE-LD, respectively) in April of that year and then the Arizona Coyotes to Scripps Sports (via KASW) in early October, Diamond Sports Group ultimately shut down Bally Sports Arizona on October 21, 2023, becoming the first official casualty of the bankruptcy.[51][52][53] On June 14, 2023, Diamond rejected its contract with Raycom Sports to distribute a package of Atlantic Coast Conference games, freeing Raycom to sell the package to other networks.[54] A month later, Raycom announced that The CW had bought the rights.[55]

On November 6, 2023, Diamond Sports and the National Basketball Association reached a one-year agreement that will result in the contracts for NBA teams airing on Diamond expiring after the 2023–24 NBA season. Across the board, all NBA teams airing on Diamond Sports will receive a 16% reduction in the money they receive from Diamond Sports, but will be able to sell 10 games to local over-the-air networks.[56][40] On December 30, 2023, the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans reached agreements with Gray Television to air 10 over-the-air games in local markets. The games will continue to be produced by Bally Sports.[57][58] On December 20, 2023, Diamond Sports and the National Hockey League reached a similar agreement to the NBA's November 6 deal that will also result in the contracts for all NHL teams airing on Diamond expiring after the 2023–24 NHL season, pending approval by the bankruptcy court.[59]

On January 17, 2024, Diamond Sports announced a restructuring agreement after receiving a minority investment from Amazon, and reaching an agreement with the Sinclair Broadcast Group for a $495 million cash payment to settle an earlier lawsuit. Under the deal, the Bally Sports app will be folded into Amazon Prime Video. The restructuring still needs to be approved by the bankruptcy court.[60]

Diamond Sports Group officially filed its reorganization plan on March 1, 2024. As part of the plan, Diamond will end its naming rights deal with Bally's Corporation and rebrand its networks by the end of the 2024 MLB season.[61]

Networks

Owned-and-operated

Network Region served Formerly
operated as
Notes
Bally Sports Detroit Michigan
Northwestern Ohio
Northeastern Indiana
Northeast Wisconsin
Fox Sports Detroit (1997–2021)
Bally Sports Florida Florida SportsChannel Florida (1987–2000)
Fox Sports Florida (2000–2021)
Bally Sports Great Lakes Ohio
Northwestern Pennsylvania
Southwestern New York
parts of Kentucky & West Virginia
SportsTime Ohio (2006–2021) Shares programming with sister network Bally Sports Ohio.
Bally Sports Indiana Indiana Fox Sports Indiana (2006–2021) Shares programming with sister network Bally Sports Midwest.
Bally Sports Kansas City Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas
Fox Sports Kansas City (2008–2021) Kansas City Royals have a minority interest. Shares programming with sister network Bally Sports Midwest.
Bally Sports Midwest Missouri
southern Illinois
Iowa
Nebraska
Prime Sports Midwest (1989–1996)
Fox Sports Midwest (1996–2021)
St. Louis Cardinals have 30% equity stake. Shares programming with sister networks Bally Sports Indiana and Bally Sports Kansas City.
Bally Sports New Orleans Louisiana Fox Sports New Orleans (2012–2021) Carries programming from sister network Bally Sports Southwest.
Bally Sports North Minnesota
Wisconsin
Iowa
North Dakota
South Dakota
Midwest Sports Channel (1989–2001)
Fox Sports North (2001–2021)
Bally Sports Ohio Ohio
Kentucky
Eastern Indiana
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Southwestern New York
parts of West Virginia
SportsChannel Ohio (1989–1998)
Fox Sports Ohio (1998–2021)
Separate subfeeds exist for the Cincinnati and Cleveland markets with the Reds having partial ownership in the Cincinnati feed of the network.
Bally Sports Oklahoma Oklahoma Fox Sports Oklahoma (2008–2021) Carries programming from sister network Bally Sports Southwest.
Bally Sports San Diego San Diego County
Imperial County
Palm Springs Area
Las Vegas Valley
Southern Arizona
Hawaii
Fox Sports San Diego (2012–2021) San Diego Padres owned a 20% equity stake prior to the team parting ways with the network on May 30, 2023. Carries programming from sister networks Bally Sports SoCal and Bally Sports West.
Bally Sports SoCal Southern California
Southern Nevada
Hawaii
Fox Sports West 2 (1997–2006)
Prime Ticket (2006–2021)
Shares programming with sister network Bally Sports San Diego.
Bally Sports South Georgia
Alabama
Kentucky
Mississippi
North Carolina
South Carolina
Tennessee
SportSouth (1990–1996)
Fox Sports South (1996–2021)
Shares broadcast rights with sister network Bally Sports Southeast.
Bally Sports Southeast Georgia
Alabama
Mississippi
South Carolina
Tennessee
Western North Carolina
Turner South (1999–2006)
SportSouth (2006–2015)
Fox Sports Southeast (2015–2021)
Shares broadcast rights with sister network Bally Sports South.
Bally Sports Southwest Texas
Arkansas
northern Louisiana
parts of New Mexico
Home Sports Entertainment (1983–1994)
Prime Sports Southwest (1994–1996)
Fox Sports Southwest (1996–2021)
Texas Rangers have 10% equity stake.
Bally Sports Sun Florida Sunshine Network (1988–2004)
Sun Sports (2004–2015)
Fox Sports Sun (2015–2021)
Shares broadcast rights with sister network Bally Sports Florida.
Bally Sports West Southern California
Southern Nevada
Hawaii
Prime Ticket (1985–1994)
Prime Sports West (1994–1996)
Fox Sports West (1996–2021)
Los Angeles Angels have 25% equity stake. Shares programming with sister network Bally Sports San Diego.
Bally Sports Wisconsin Wisconsin
western Upper Peninsula of Michigan
eastern Minnesota
northwestern Illinois
Iowa
Fox Sports Wisconsin (2007–2021) Carries some programming from sister network Bally Sports North. Brewers obtained minority interest in 2021.

Affiliates

Network Region served Formerly
operated as
Notes
Marquee Sports Network Northern and Central Illinois
Iowa
Eastern and Central Nebraska
Northern, Western and Central Indiana
Southwestern Michigan
Southeastern Wisconsin
Co-owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group and Chicago Cubs.
YES Network New York
North and Central Jersey
Southwestern Connecticut
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Diamond Sports has minority share. Select programming airs instead on MSG Sportsnet/MSG Network
MSG Sportsnet/MSG Network Cablevision Sports 3 (1976–1979)
SportsChannel New York (1979–1998)
FSN New York (1998–2008)
Select programming airs instead on YES Network.

Previously owned-and-operated

Network Region served Formerly
operated as
Notes
Bally Sports Arizona Arizona
New Mexico
Utah
Southern Nevada
Fox Sports Arizona (1996–2021) Shut down services on October 21, 2023 after losing airing rights to Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Arizona Coyotes games throughout 2023.

Teams by network

Network MLB NBA NHL Other Teams from neighboring networks
(Availability may be limited)
Bally Sports Detroit Detroit Tigers Detroit Pistons Detroit Red Wings Detroit Lions (NFL)*
Bally Sports Florida Miami Marlins Orlando Magic Florida Panthers Miami Sharks
Bally Sports Great Lakes Cleveland Guardians Cleveland Browns (NFL)* Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) (Ohio)
Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) (Ohio)
Bally Sports Indiana Indiana Pacers Indiana Fever (WNBA) Cincinnati Reds (MLB) (Ohio)
Detroit Pistons (NBA) (Detroit)
St. Louis Blues (NHL) (Midwest)
St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) (Midwest)
Bally Sports Kansas City Kansas City Royals Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) (North)
Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) (Oklahoma)
St. Louis Blues (NHL) (Midwest)
Bally Sports Midwest St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Blues Kansas City Royals (MLB) (Kansas City)
Indiana Pacers (NBA) (Indiana)
Memphis Grizzlies (NBA) (Southeast)
Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) (North)
Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) (Oklahoma)
Bally Sports New Orleans New Orleans Pelicans Dallas Stars (NHL) (Southwest)
Texas Rangers (MLB) (Southwest)
Bally Sports North Minnesota Twins Minnesota Timberwolves Minnesota Wild Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)
Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
Bally Sports Ohio Cincinnati Reds Cleveland Cavaliers Columbus Blue Jackets
Bally Sports Oklahoma Oklahoma City Thunder Dallas Stars (NHL) (Southwest)
Kansas City Royals (MLB) (Kansas City)
St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) (Midwest)
Texas Rangers (MLB) (Southwest)
Bally Sports San Diego Anaheim Ducks (NHL) (SoCal)
Los Angeles Clippers (NBA) (SoCal)
Los Angeles Kings (NHL) (West)
Bally Sports SoCal Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Clippers Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Rams (NFL)*
Bally Sports South Atlanta Braves Carolina Hurricanes
Nashville Predators
Atlanta Dream (WNBA) Cincinnati Reds (MLB) (Ohio)
Indiana Pacers (NBA) (Indiana)
New Orleans Pelicans (NBA) (New Orleans)
St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) (Midwest)
Bally Sports Southeast Atlanta Braves Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Hornets
Memphis Grizzlies
Atlanta Dream (WNBA)
Cincinnati Reds (MLB) (Ohio)
St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) (Midwest)
Bally Sports Southwest Texas Rangers Dallas Mavericks
San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Stars Kansas City Royals (MLB) (Kansas City)
Memphis Grizzlies (NBA) (Southeast)
Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) (Oklahoma)
St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) (Midwest)
Bally Sports Sun Tampa Bay Rays Miami Heat Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL)*
Bally Sports West Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Clippers† Anaheim Ducks†
Los Angeles Kings
Bally Sports Wisconsin Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee Bucks Minnesota Wild (NHL) (North)

* Team-related shows and/or game replays only
† Occasional game telecasts

National programming

Current

Former

Related services

Bally Sports+

Bally Sports+ is Bally Sports's over-the-top subscription streaming platform, which offers livestreams and market-specific video-on-demand content from its individual regional networks. In addition to offering live game telecasts from the Bally Sports regional networks, the service also provides game replays, team-centered studio programs, outdoor programming, and selected programs syndicated to the network's national and regional feeds.

In December 2020, Sinclair announced plans to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service based around the linear Bally Sports networks. The service was originally targeted for a 2021 launch, though it was delayed due to Bally Sports needing to negotiate over-the-top streaming rights with the teams.[72] Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley stated that the service was meant to target cord cutters, whom the company felt were underserved in the regional sports market.[73]

Bally Sports+ was soft-launched on June 23, 2022, initially available to customers residing in the service areas of Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Wisconsin, and Bally Sports Florida/Bally Sports Sun —the five markets where Bally Sports was able to negotiate streaming rights to the local MLB team. The service launched three weeks after NESN launched NESN 360, the first DTC streaming service ever offered by an American regional sports network, on June 1.[74][75]

The service—which is sold for $19.99/month or $189.99/year—uses the same infrastructure as the Bally Sports app, and was initially available on smartphones and tablet devices. Due to regional rights restrictions, the service is only available to users in markets serviced by a network owned or affiliated with Bally Sports.[74]

In August 2022, Bally Sports announced that Bally Sports+ would expand to the rest of its markets on September 26, 2022.[76]

See also

References

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