FSD becomes Bally Sports Detroit this month; here's what you need to know

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
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Come month's end, FSD will be MIA.

Fox Sports Detroit will officially be rebranded as Bally Sports Detroit on March 31, the final step in Disney's sell-off of 19 regional sports networks after acquiring them from Fox in March 2019.

The monitor shows Tigers pitching prospect Tarik Skubal during a Fox Sports Detroit production shoot in Lakeland, Florida, in February 2020.

The U.S. Justice Department ordered the regional sports networks to be sold, to avoid monopoly issues. Disney owns ABC and ESPN.

From the viewer's perspective, little will change with FSD becoming Bally Sports Detroit. The channel number will remain the same, depending on your cable provider, and viewers who stream on Fox Sports Go soon will be able to stream on the Bally Sports app. Like with the Fox Sports Go app, that requires cable-account verification.

Bally Sports Detroit will continue operating with the streaming services that currently offer FSD. YouTube TV still doesn't offer FSD.

FSD, which carries the Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers, will unveil new graphics and music with the rebrand, but the teams' broadcasters will remain the same. Methods vary on who pays the talent, whether it's the network or team, but teams wield significant power when it comes to choosing on-air talent.

Fox Sports Detroit launched in 1997, replacing Pro-Am Sports System (PASS) as the Tigers' cable home. During the Tigers' franchise revival from 2006-14, the team drew some of the biggest ratings in Major League Baseball; the team's deal with FSD is believed to run through early this decade, and pay the team $50 million a year.

In 2018, the Tigers expressed interest in starting their own network, like the Yankees with YES, but those plans haven't come to fruition.

FSD on Wednesday sent out its first press release in which it referred to itself as Bally Sports Detroit, announcing 161 of 162 Tigers games will air on the network. The Tigers' June 1 game at the Los Angeles Angels will be televised nationally, on Fox Sports 1. 

On April 1, Opening Day, each of the regional sports networks will air a Bally Sports Big Opening Day, with whip-around coverage, starting at 11 a.m. The Tigers open at home that day against the Cleveland Indians, and that telecast will be simulcast on Fox 2 in Detroit, CBS 3 in Grand Rapids, CW 46 in Flint and NBC 74 in Traverse City.

In March 2019, Disney and 20th Century Fox announced its $71.3-billion merger was official, after agreeing to a 2018 Justice Department order requiring the RSN sales.

Bally's, the casino operator, and Sinclair, which bought the RSNs from Disney for nearly $10 billion, announced they were teaming up in November.

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tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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