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Fox Sports Ohio Rolls Out Name Change, Opening Day Plans

John Kiesewetter
Opening Day 2016 at Great American Ball Park.

No surprise here: Fox Sports Ohio will rebrand as Bally Sports Ohioon March 31 – the day before the Reds' Opening Day telecast.

Without an Opening Day parade again this year, "BSO" will televise a four-hour Bally Sports Big Opening Day show from Sinclair's Stadium channel studio in Chicago.

The "live, whip-around style MLB Opening Day broadcast" will "leverage the Bally Sports (formerly Fox Sports) regional networks … with expert analysis, interviews and more." The "more" will include NHL, NBA and pro-tennis updates and highlights "in coordination with Sinclair-owned sister sports platforms, including Tennis Channel and Stadium."

Credit Courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group

BSO will televise 158 Reds games. Four other games air nationally: Milwaukee at Reds May 21 on FS1; at San Diego June 19 and at Milwaukee July 10 on the Fox network; and at Philadelphia Aug. 14 on FS1.

The rest of the details released by FSO/BSO had been reported previously:

--Opening Day is 4 p.m. Thursday, April 1, when the Reds play the Cardinals on BSO and WKRC-TV.

--Hall of Famer Barry Larkinjoins new play-by-play voice John Sadakas Reds analyst this season.  Larkin makes his debut on Opening Day.

--Chris Welsh and Jeff Brantley also will continue doing TV games, plus Welsh will do some Reds radio games with Tommy Thrall. (Welsh does the Reds-Rangers exhibition game 9:05 p.m. Wednesday March 24 with Thrall.)

--The Reds Live pregame show, hosted by Brian Giesenschlag and Sam LeCure, will air 30 minutes before every Reds game all season. It will be expanded to one hour at 3 p.m. on Opening Day. The Reds Live postgame show will air immediately after every Reds game.

--Sideline reporter Jim Day will be back for his 20th season.  Jeff Piecoro, Danny Graves and Doug Flynn will not be back this year.

--The monthly Access Reds show returns later this month. Day, Giesenschlag or Charlie Walter will host the half-hour show featuring interviews, highlights, recaps and previews.

Fox Sports Ohio will rebrand its app and website on March 31. Reds fans must have a pay TV service to use the app. From the release:

"Reds programming airing on Bally Sports Ohio will stream live on the all-new Bally Sports app and on when a consumer authenticates through their pay TV service. Both the app and website will launch in coordination with the network rebrand on March 31, 2021.

"The Bally Sports app will be available on mobile and tablet devices, including iOS and Android, as well as connected devices including, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, PlayStation, Roku Players and Roku TV, Samsung and LG platforms and Xbox One.?The FOX Sports GO app will update to the all-new Bally Sports app upon the rebrand. Fans can also download the app for free from the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store, Roku App Store, XBOX One App Store and Windows App Store."

Last November, Sinclair announced the strategic partnership with the Bally's Corporation, which owns casinos, horse racetracks and authorized off-track betting licenses. Sinclair operates WKRC-TV, Channel 12.2, WSTR-TV, WKEF-TV and WRGT-TV in Southwestern Ohio among its 188 TV stations; the 19 regional Fox Sports networks; the Tennis Channel and Stadium channel; and the Stirr streaming service.

"Rolling out Bally's iconic logo across Sinclair's regional sports networks is a rewarding first step in a transformational partnership that is going to revolutionize the U.S. sports betting, gaming and media industries,"  saidGeorge Papanier, Bally's Corporation president and chief executive,in a January media release.

"We look forward to integrating Bally's unique content, including the award-winning daily fantasy sports platform we are acquiring from Monkey Knife Fight, across Sinclair's live game day coverage and providing unrivaled sports gamification on a national scale," Papanier said.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.