FanDuel Inks Naming Rights To Regional Sports Broadcasts But Tigers Still In Limbo

Written By Matthew Lomon on June 5, 2024 - Last Updated on June 11, 2024
Detroit Tigers pitcher Tarik Skubal. FanDuel looks to be taking over from Bally's as a regional sports brodcasting sponsor, but that still won't get Tigers games back on Comcast.

Earlier this week, reports from Bloomberg suggested FanDuel was closing in on the naming rights of Diamond Sports Group’s 18 regional sports networks, one of which is responsible for broadcasting Detroit Tigers games.

Sportico confirmed the news Tuesday in a detailed report documenting the contentious and dissolving relationship between DSG and previous naming-rights sponsor Bally’s Corp.

The move precedes the impending expiration of DSG’s deal with Bally’s, which will cease following the 2024 MLB season.

Per Sportico, an attorney for Diamond said the framework for a new agreement is now in place.

“We recently reached an agreement in principle with a third party on rebranding the RSNs and we are working diligently to turn that agreement in principle into a document agreement,” Diamond’s counsel said in a virtual status meeting held by the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

While the new agreement with FanDuel may create new avenues for Michigan residents to watch Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons contests, which are all part of DSG. Yet, Major League Baseball, for one, remains skeptical of DSG’s ability to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

As PlayMichigan previously reported, Michiganders lost access to Tigers games via Comcast/Xfinity as a result of the DSG-Bally’s contract dispute.

MLB remains skeptical of DSG amidst bankruptcy refiling

During Tuesday’s hearing, Major League Baseball attorney James Bromley vocalized the league’s doubt in DSG turning things around.

“We still have substantial concerns about the viability of the debtors’ business plan,” Bromley said.

The attorney specifically emphasized MLB’s concerns over Diamond’s failure to renew its carriage agreement with Comcast.

As a result, Bromley said the league anticipates filing an objection. The opposition will take the position that DSG “does not have a viable go-forward plan.”

Diamond’s counsel rebuked, calling Major League Baseball’s concerns “speculative.”

The Virginia-based company declared bankruptcy on March 14, 2023. Its parent company, Sinclair, has been in the red since its $9.6 billion purchase from Disney in 2019. Diamond’s collection of networks currently broadcast 38 teams across the MLB, NBA, and NHL.

Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings stuck in the middle of dispute

In between the back-and-forth lies the Tigers and their fans. The Pistons and Red Wings are also trying to figure out their spot in the equation.

Given FanDuel’s economic and social prowess, prospects appear much brighter than four weeks ago. However, Diamond’s bleak financial situation, along with declining interest in RSNs, don’t exactly inspire much confidence moving forward. At least not yet.

The person overseeing the hearings, Judge Christopher Lopez, cut the problem down the middle.

“Whether Comcast is essential to a deal or not, I don’t know,” Judge Lopez said. “I think it’s time for everyone to put their cards on the table to see where we are.

Ahead of the confirmation hearing, which was strategically rescheduled for Monday, July 29, Lopez encouraged all parties to keep an open line of communication.

How you can still watch Detroit Tigers broadcasts

Now more than 60 games into the season, fans who previously watched American League Cy Young contender Tarik Skubal and the Tigers through Comcast/Xfinity, have four options streaming options:

  • DIRECTV: Essentially an alternative to cable TV service, DirecTV is $74.99 per month with a 24-month commitment. You can get this service with or without a satellite dish.
  • MLB TV: Pay $139.99 for the full season. This service will only work if you are a Tigers fan outside of Michigan and Northern Ohio. Tigers games are blacked out otherwise. You will get most of the other 31 MLB teams feeds.
  • Fubo: A free trial is available, and after that the minimum cost is $72.99 per month. This service could potentially replace your Comcast cable service, as it provides as many as 271 channels.
  • Bally Sports Plus: see below for details.

The most convenient way to continue to watch Tigers games is to download the Bally Sports Plus app. Every broadcast is available there, either on your mobile device or laptop. The app/service can also be added to most smart TVs. The monthly subscription rate for Bally Sports Plus is $19.99.

As mentioned earlier, DSG’s deal with Bally’s doesn’t expire until after the 2024 MLB season. Therefore, Bally Sports Plus remains a viable option for the remaining 100-plus games on the Tigers’ regular season schedule.

Photo by Jose Juarez / AP Photo
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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