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Fox Sports Sun rebranded, but accessibility still an issue

The regional TV rights holder for the Lightning and Rays has a new name and logo, but remains out of reach for many Lightning and Rays fans.
The TV rights holder for local Lightning and Rays broadcasts has been rebranded to Bally Sports Sun from Fox Sports Sun.
The TV rights holder for local Lightning and Rays broadcasts has been rebranded to Bally Sports Sun from Fox Sports Sun. [ Sinclair Broadcasting Group ]
Published Jan. 27
Updated Jan. 28

TAMPA — The television home for Lightning and Rays games is getting a new name and logo, but don’t expect the wrangling that is keeping many Lightning fans from watching games on the channel to change.

Logos were released Wednesday for the rebranding of Fox Sports Sun as Bally Sports Sun, a move that will become official in a few months. The Bally casino brand in November completed a 10-year naming-rights deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which purchased the Fox Sports regional network from Disney in 2019.

Partnered with Bally, Sinclair hopes to add an interactive betting component to all its sports broadcasts. Bally president and CEO George Papanier said in a statement Wednesday that the company plans to add the daily fantasy sports platform it acquired from fantasy operator Monkey Knife Fight across the networks’ live game-day coverage.

Related: No easy solutions inside the Lightning's TV mess

All that is less important to Lightning and Rays fans who can no longer watch locally broadcast games.

Frontier Communications dropped Sinclair-owned Fox Sports Sun and Fox Sports Florida from its cable packages in September, and several streaming platforms no longer have the Sinclair-owned regional networks in their channel lineups because of wrangling over carriage fees, what cable and streaming companies pay network owners to carry their networks.

The cost is usually passed along to cable and streaming subscribers.

Hulu stopped carrying Fox Sports Sun and Fox Sports Florida on Oct. 1, YouTube TV on Oct. 22.

The primary alternative options locally are subscribing to Spectrum cable, DirecTV satellite service or AT&T TV streaming.

The TV rights holder for local Lightning and Rays broadcasts has been rebranded to Bally Sports Sun from Fox Sports Sun.
The TV rights holder for local Lightning and Rays broadcasts has been rebranded to Bally Sports Sun from Fox Sports Sun. [ Sinclair ]

Sinclair said Wednesday it had no update to share.

“Sinclair remains committed to reaching a fair agreement with both Hulu and YouTube TV to carry the Fox (regional sports networks). At no time have we demanded exorbitant fees for these channels,” Sinclair said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “Instead, we have consistently offered both pay TV providers extremely fair deals in line with what hundreds of other TV services have agreed to and continue to agree to.

“However, despite high-profile ad campaigns and website claims touting their live sports content, we have yet to see that same commitment from either provider to put consumers first. Unfortunately, at this point we have no choice but to conclude that neither Disney (which owns Hulu) nor Google (which owns YouTube) is willing to engage in good-faith discussions or return the (regional sports networks) to their platforms.”

Sinclair’s partnership with Bally could eventually lead to the development of an app where fans can purchase games direct-to-consumer for streaming, much like Netflix or Disney+.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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