We have seen significant changes in the regional sports network landscape over the last year or so. Sinclair, an operator of nearly 200 local television stations, has invested heavily in RSNs since then, including partnering with the Cubs in the creation of Marquee Sports Network.
They also bought 19 RSNs that had been owned by Fox Sports. Fox was required to divest these after they were bought by Disney in early 2019. Of these 19, 15 broadcast MLB games.
Sinclair announced Thursday that they have made a deal with Bally Sports to rebrand the Fox RSNs:
Bally’s Corporation and Sinclair Broadcast Group have reached a deal which will see Bally Sports become the new name of Fox Sports RSNs. The 10-year deal, which is for a reported $85 million, will also see the companies partner on bringing sports betting to their telecasts.
Two Sinclair-owned networks, YES Network and Marquee Sports Network, will not be rebranded as part of the deal. The exact name of the new networks and whether they will be branded regionally, like Fox Sports West and Fox Sports Ohio, has yet to be determined.
As noted in the quote above, nothing will change for Cubs fans watching games on Marquee, as it won’t be part of the rebrand. This, however, could be interesting going forward:
The Fox Sports Go app, part of the RSN acquisition, will be revamped to provide direct-to-consumer content and gaming additions. Sinclair intends to launch the new sports app during spring 2021 baseball season.
I would imagine, at least at first, that you’d still have to have a cable or satellite subscription to watch games via that new Sinclair/Bally’s app. But given the cord-cutting that is still ongoing, I would think MLB will have to come up with some sort of streaming availability for baseball games. That might still be years away, though.
Anyway, if you watch games via any of the Fox Sports RSNs (there’s a map at the link above), you’ll still be able to see them, it’ll just be on a channel with a different name.