After the launch of Michigan online sports betting earlier this year, sports gambling operators are scrambling to get in front of the eyes of Michigan sports fans.
That list of companies now includes Bally’s, which will brand 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 Wednesday, 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 will include new graphics and music, though not much else will be different. The Fox Sports GO app will update to the Bally Sports app soon.
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.
Will I be able to stream Bally Sports Detroit?
The change does not affect the status (or lack thereof) of Bally Sports Detroit for many 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.
Cable carriers such as AT&T TV, DIRECTV and Xfinity have access to the channel, though some are on pricier access tiers.
Bally Sports stations will broadcast 42 pro teams
PlayMichigan reported on the coming name change last year, and the news is trickling out to Michigan sports fans. With the Tigers’ season now under way, more fans will learn about the change.
The station started promoting the change this month with the slogan, “New name. Same home.”
For many years, we’ve captured the memories, shared the emotion, watched legends grow. Sports connect us all.
— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) March 17, 2021
The switchover was live for Wednesday’s Pistons game against the Portland Trail Blazers. It also came just in time for Thursday’s Tigers season opener against the Cleveland Indians.
The three Detroit teams are among 42 professional sports teams that will now primarily play games on Bally stations.
Bally’s making many moves in sports betting game
The branding rights deal is part of a string of recent 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.
Earlier this month, 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.
For one, operators of Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant have not yet announced a sports betting partner. Out of 15 sports betting licenses available in Michigan, Soaring Eagle’s is the only one that hasn’t either already launched or has a sportsbook partner lined up. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe had planned to launch retail sports betting at the casino in January, but that hasn’t happened, either.
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 12 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 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.