Rebranding is not easy, let alone for a brand that has been going strong for a quarter of a century. Fox Sports has a loyal viewer base and will continue to add more users over time thanks to the content it covers i.e Sports. Indeed when one considers all these aspects, one will wonder why it was necessary to change a good thing in the first place.
If you assumed that there was a compulsion that drove this decision, then you are definitely right. The regional sports channel that has been going strong for 25 years was the casualty of a business decision that has resulted in the creation of what we now recognize as Bally Sports. Here’s everything you need to know about why Fox Sports changed to Bally Sports.
Related: What is Bally Sports?
What happened to Fox Sports?
Starting from March 31st, all Fox Sports properties that include the 19 regional networks, Social Media handles, and mobile apps among other things were rebranded as Bally Sports. Since the scale of this particular change is extremely massive, the process is still ongoing with certain properties like the Bally Sports app in their final stages of development.
While the rebranding has begun to reflect since March 31st, the process itself has been in the works for the past two years.
Related: Is there a Bally Sports app?
A bidding war
Before we delve into the why part of Fox Sports changing to Bally Sports, it’s important to know the ownership aspect of it all. Back in 2017, The Walt Disney Company started negotiations with Rupert Murdoch to acquire the films, cable entertainment, and direct broadcast satellite divisions of 20th Century Fox.
Initially, Disney’s plan was to acquire all assets of 21st Century Fox to broaden the scope of Disney’s streaming library in a bid to compete with other streaming services. The initial offer made by Disney for this acquisition was $52.4 billion, however, Comcast was also very keen to acquire 21st Century Fox and made an all-cash bid of $60 billion.
Once all the politics settled and the bidding war came to an end, Disney came on top with a $71.3 billion deal that gave them exclusive rights to all 21st Century Fox content.
The DOJ’s decision
As part of this acquisition, Disney required anti-trust approval from the Department Of Justice for the acquisition to gain valid status. The problem was that if Disney also owned Fox’s regional sports channels, then it would basically have a monopoly thanks to its existing ownership of American Broadcasting Company (ABC). This kind of ownership would be illegal under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s which prohibits a merger between two of the four major broadcast networks.
To assuage this issue, the DOJ gave conditional antitrust approval to Disney for the acquisition. The condition was that Disney had to off-load the Fox regional sports networks within 90 days for the merger to be valid or the deal would be back on the table and Comcast could make a fair bid to take over all Fox content.
Related: Is Bally Sports on YouTube TV?
Why did Fox Sports change to Bally Sports?
With only 90 days to offload Fox’s regional sports channels, Disney began looking for potential buyers and finally settled on Sinclair Broadcast Group.
In a $10 billion acquisition deal between Disney and Sinclair, there was a condition that Sinclair could only use the Fox name for 18 months. So Sinclair had 18 months to change all Fox Sports properties to another name that also carried good brand value.
A decision was made to bring a gambling element into the brand since sports betting has big potential to generate revenue. The ownership of Fox Sports now gave Sinclair the opportunity to generate revenue using this method. They settled on a 10-year naming rights agreement with Bally’s Corporation, a company that owns 11 casinos across 7 states and has authorized OTB licenses in Colorado.
Bally’s would bring the gambling element to the sports channels that Sinclair needed and the Fox name could finally be shed.
The changes are now being implemented very aggressively and viewers should start getting used to seeing the Bally name instead of Fox. Of course, there are going to be minor transition pains for fans as well who look forward to seeing the Fox name and will now see Bally instead.
It’s important to remember that this change was not personal and the games will continue as usual. The goose will continue to lay golden eggs, only the countryman who takes care of it has changed. So it’s ideal if one can get used to seeing Bally’s red sooner rather than later because from the looks of it, the brand is not going anywhere for the next ten years.
There is a certain amount of adjustment involved when a long-term brand makes such a drastic change, especially for viewers who have been watching Fox Sports for the last two decades. But change is the only constant and it must happen one way or another so it’s better to get on board without thinking too much about it.
We hope this article helped you find the clarity you needed regarding why Fox Sports changed to Bally Sports. You can find more information regarding Bally Sports here to help ease the transition. Take care and stay safe.