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Brewers games on Bally Sports Wisconsin will look similar, but some streaming services lack deals
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Brewers games on Bally Sports Wisconsin will look similar, but some streaming services lack deals

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American Family Field isn’t the only new name Milwaukee Brewers fans will need to get used to in 2021.

By Opening Day, the network televising Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks games will have a new name as well, as FOX Sports Wisconsin is set to be rebranded as Bally Sports Wisconsin under an $85 million naming-rights agreement announced earlier this year between Bally’s Sports and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The network has carried Brewers games since 1996, when it was known as Midwest Sports Channel, and was rebranded to FOX Sports Wisconsin in 2012. Sinclair, which also owns Madison’s WMSN-TV as well as stations in Milwaukee and Green Bay, purchased FOX Sports Wisconsin, along with 20 other regional sports networks, from the Walt Disney Company for $10.6 billion in 2019 and agreed to a multi-year broadcast agreement with the Brewers last month.

Other than the name and branding, little about the broadcasts will change.

Brian Anderson will handle play-by-play duties for a majority of the schedule, with longtime University of Wisconsin radio voice Matt Lepay and Brewers radio announcer Jeff Levering stepping in when Anderson is handling national assignments. Former Brewers catcher Bill Schroeder returns for a 27th season to provide color commentary and analysis while Sophia Minnaert will provide in-game reports and Craig Coshun will anchor pre- and postgame coverage with former Brewers pitcher Jerry Augustine.

Of course, whether or not fans will be able to watch those games depends on how they get their television content. The channel is available on most cable services, including Spectrum, TDS Telecom and Century Link in the Madison Area, as well as to those who subscribe to satellite services like DIRECT TV.

But subscribers to most online streaming services, including popular options like Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV, have been unable to watch Brewers or Bucks games this season because of an ongoing dispute with Sinclair.

Requests for comment from Hulu and YouTube TV were not returned. A Sinclair spokesperson said the company does not comment on negotiations but remains committed to negotiating a “fair agreement” with those streaming services to get games back on their air for those customers.

“At no time have we demanded exorbitant fees for these channels,” the spokesperson said. “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 RSNs to their platforms.”

The lack of access to game broadcasts is concerning for Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic limiting attendance for games at American Family Field, with even more fans still hesitant to attend large gatherings until vaccines become more widely distributed.

“The media landscape is changing,” Attanasio said. “I’m committed to doing everything I can to deliver the content of our team to all of our fans. We’ll try to work through some of those things. I’d like to hear some of the challenges fans have faced and see if I can address them.”

WTMJ-AM in Milwaukee remains the flagship station for the Brewers Radio Network, which has 44 affiliates across the state including two new ones in Madison, where games can be heard on WOZN 1670 AM and 96.7 FM after Mid-West Family Communications acquired rights to the games aired in Madison and Eau Claire. The previous affiliates were iHEARTMEDIA stations WIBA-AM in Madison and WATQ-FM in Eau Claire.

“There simply is nothing like catching the Brew crew on the radio,” Mid-West Family Broadcasting vice president of programming Randy Hawke said in a statement announcing the move last year. “Each game is an event, and I cannot wait for the season to start so we can experience the tradition that is the Milwaukee Brewers with our fans”.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker will be behind the mic for a 51st season with Levering and Lane Grindle sharing those duties and handling a majority of Milwaukee’s road games.

While the Brewers will move to a new station, iHeartMedia won’t be without baseball this summer. FOX Sports 1070 AM (WTSO) will carry broadcasts of Chicago Cubs games in the Madison area.

“The Cubs have an enormous fan base in Southern Wisconsin and we at FOX Sports 1070 are excited to deliver the entire season, day and night,” WTSO program director Shawn Prebil said. “This is long overdue for fans of the Cubs and Major League Baseball who will be able to hear the complete season, including regional and divisional matchups. Spring is right around the corner and we can’t wait to have Cubs baseball on FOX Sports 1070.”

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