Sinclair has owned the Fox Sports RSNs for a good year-plus now, and they still haven’t been rebranded (I’m very sick of typing “the Sinclair-owned Fox RSNs,” but here we are). One option for the rebrand could be the sale of naming rights, as if the networks are a bowl game or an arena.
Per Sportico, Sinclair has talked with sports betting companies about the naming rights for the networks, either as a group or on a network by network basis.
Sinclair has discussed the naming rights with potential sports betting partners, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the talks are private. The conversations have started with rights to all 21 networks as a group, but Sinclair could also decide to sell the rights piecemeal, the people said.
Of note: YES Network and Marquee wouldn’t be involved in any rebrand.
Here’s the main stumbling block here: MLB, the NBA, and the NHL would reportedly all need to approve the rebrand if it includes naming rights. That would seemingly be a major issue if a sports betting company is involved, given the various partnerships between gambling companies, the leagues, and the teams. For instance, all three leagues have deals with MGM and FanDuel. But the NHL doesn’t have a deal with Fox Bet (MLB and the NBA do), MLB doesn’t have a deal with William Hill (the NBA and NHL do), and neither the NHL nor NBA have deals with DraftKings (MLB does).
How much of an issue would there be if one of the companies that doesn’t have a deal with all three leagues tried to strike a deal with Sinclair? Would RSNs in states that don’t currently have legalized sports betting be rebranded? It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to rebrand Fox Sports West, Fox Sports South, or Fox Sports Florida (to name three) as something like “FanDuel Sports South” if Georgia residents can’t use FanDuel’s sports betting services.
Through a year and a half, Sinclair’s purchase of the Fox RSNs hasn’t gone as expected. Despite talking a big game about a new app and in-game gambling soon after the purchases, we still haven’t seen either from Sinclair, not to mention the lack of a rebrand. Sinclair has also had carriage battles with YouTube TV and Hulu, with both streaming providers currently not carrying the bundle of RSNs. The shutdown of live sports earlier this year also ended up costing Sinclair more in rebates than it got in refunds, and the company took a third quarter loss of over $3 billion.