After the launch of Michigan online sports betting in early 2021, sports gambling operators were scrambling to get in front of the eyes of Michigan sports fans.
That list of companies includes Bally’s, which brands a Michigan sports staple cable channel that is the home of Detroit Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers broadcasts.
Fox Sports Detroit became Bally Sports Detroit on March 31, 2021, a valuable entry in a lucrative new sports betting state. However, Bally’s currently has no market access in the Great Lakes State.
The change also included new graphics and music, though not much else will be different. The Fox Sports GO app switched over to the Bally Sports app in late April, 2021.
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Bally Sports+ streaming service launching June 23, 2022
Bally Sports Detroit has not been available for most streaming customers in Michigan.
Subscribers to YouTubeTV, Hulu, fuboTV and SlingTV cannot watch the channel because the platforms have not reached a deal with Sinclair.
But now, cord cutters can purchase the new Bally Sports+, a standalone streaming service. It is set to launch June 23, and will cost $19.99 per month, or $189.95 for the year. That would allow customers to watch the Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, and everything else Bally Sports Detroit airs throughout the year.
Cable carriers such as AT&T TV, DIRECTV and Xfinity have access to the channel, though some are on pricier access tiers.
Sinclair purchased channels, repackaged naming rights
One important thing to know: For more than a year, Fox Sports Detroit has not been owned by FOX as it is.
Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased Fox Sports Detroit, along with 20 other regional sports networks, from Disney in 2019.
The move was a fallout from Disney purchasing the 21st Century Fox entertainment division. Because of monopoly restrictions, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled Disney had to sell off the RSNs.
Bally’s making many moves in sports betting game
The branding rights deal was part of a string of moves made by Bally’s, a classic Las Vegas Strip betting brand trying to evolve into online sports wagering.
The current Bally’s company was formerly Twin River Worldwide Holdings, which acquired the brand name during the fallout of last year’s Caesars merger with Eldorado Resorts. That deal also included the Bally’s property in Atlantic City, though incidentally not the Bally’s Las Vegas property.
In 2021, Bally’s acquired Gamesys Group, a United Kingdom online gaming company.
The company also acquired sports betting platform supplier Bet.Works last year, with plans to launch a Bally Bets platform. Bally’s also bought daily fantasy sports firm Monkey Knife Fight.
But again, the company doesn’t have yet is market access, which is now nearly impossible to find in Michigan.
Will I be able to bet on games while watching Bally Sports Detroit?
Because Bally’s does not have market access in Michigan, there will be no Bally’s sports betting product here immediately.
However, there could be opportunities down the road.
Chances to enter the market down the line could come up as contracts between sports betting companies and casino operators expire.
But no market access means no way of betting games through your TV. However, you can bet games you watch on Bally Sports Detroit through any of the 15 current live sports betting operators.
Online sports betting presence all over Michigan TVs
The Bally’s branding is just another avenue to reach Michigan sports viewers.
The arms race of TV ads during sporting events here has reached a fever pitch since the Jan. 22, 2021, launch of online sports betting.
Jamie Foxx feels part of the family. You’ll get pitched sports betting ads while the Detroit Pistons shoot free throws.
Now, sports betting marketing will come more directly from a brand that isn’t even live in the state.
It’s just the latest indication of the lengths these companies will go to reach sports fans.