|Fox Sports North|
|Network||Fox Sports Networks|
|Owned by||Diamond Sports Group (Sinclair Broadcast Group and Entertainment Studios)|
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)|
|Formerly called||WCCO II (1986-1989)|
Midwest Sports Channel (1989-2001)
Fox Sports Net North (2001-2004)
FSN North (2004-2008)
(some events may air on overflow feed Fox Sports North Plus due to event conflicts)
|Dish Network||436 (SD/HD)|
|Available on most cable systems in designated broadcast area||Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability|
|Fox Sports Go||www.foxsportsgo.com/|
(U.S. cable internet subscribers only; requires login from participating providers to stream content; some events may not be available due to league rights restrictions)
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
Fox Sports North is an American regional sports network owned by Diamond Sports Group, and operates as a Fox Sports Networks affiliate. The channel broadcasts coverage of sporting events involving teams located in the Upper Midwest region, with a focus on professional and collegiate sports teams based in Minnesota.
The network maintains production studios and offices located in downtown Minneapolis, which are shared with production and office operations of Fox Sports Wisconsin, which formerly served as a subfeed of Fox Sports North until it was spun off into a separate channel in 2006.
Fox Sports North maintains two separate feeds: a "metro" feed (which is broadcast to the Twin Cities and surrounding areas) and the "outstate" feed (which is seen elsewhere throughout Minnesota, as well as North and South Dakota, Iowa and extreme western Wisconsin).
Fox Sports North is available on cable providers throughout Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northern Iowa, Upper Michigan along the Wisconsin border and the eastern parts of North Dakota and South Dakota; the "outstate" feed of the channel is also available on satellite via DirecTV and Dish Network.
The channel originated in 1986 as WCCO II, a local cable channel owned by Midwest Radio and Television, and created as a project by CBS affiliate WCCO-TV (channel 4, now an owned-and-operated station of the network) that was originally intended to complement to the over-the-air WCCO with its own slate of local and general entertainment programming. Over the course of the three years that followed, though, it gradually focused more on sports programming. It formally became a regional sports network in 1989, when it was relaunched as the Midwest Sports Channel. It was also the same year that the network would acquire rights to Twins broadcasts.
MSC's main draws in its early days were games from the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota North Stars. The channel also served as an affiliate of SportsChannel America, filling much of its broadcast day with a mix of national programs and paid programming from the channel, and incorporated sports news tickers provided by the channel. MSC was largely considered a premium channel until the early 1990s, and did not even have full cable coverage in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area until it was added by Continental Cablevision's St. Paul system on its expanded basic cable lineup in 1994.
In 1992, CBS acquired the Midwest Sports Channel, through its purchase of WCCO-TV and WCCO radio. The following year in 1993, the channel lost the broadcast rights to the Minnesota North Stars (which it had been airing since 1989), as a result of the team's relocation to Dallas. MSC expanded its lineup of professional sports events in 1995, after it landed a television contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves to hold the regional cable rights to the team's games. By this time, the channel became an affiliate of the Prime Network.
The following year, the Wisconsin Sports Network (a gametime-only network broadcasting Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks games), which had been owned by Time Warner Cable's Milwaukee franchise and Group W (whose corporate parent, Westinghouse, had just merged with CBS), was folded into MSC, giving the network a broader reach throughout the Midwest, in addition to the rights to the Brewers and Bucks contracts, and a sizeable stable of local outdoor programs. In 1997, the Midwest Sports Channel became an affiliate of the recently created Fox Sports Net.
Shortly after completing its merger with CBS, on June 10, 2000, Viacom announced that it would sell the Midwest Sports Channel and Baltimore-based regional sports network Home Team Sports. On July 11, 2000, Comcast acquired the Midwest Sports Channel from CBS. News Corporation, which was a minority owner in the network and wanted to acquire the channel outright, attempted to block the deal, filing a lawsuit on July 21 to stop the sale of MSC and Home Team Sports. On September 7, 2000, as part of a settlement between the two companies, Comcast traded its equity interest in Midwest Sports Channel to News Corporation in exchange for exclusive ownership of Home Team Sports (which subsequently joined Comcast SportsNet as Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic). Through its existing content agreement with the channel, WCCO continued to broadcast a replay of its 10:00 p.m. newscast daily at 4:30 a.m. until the sale to Fox was finalized.
In 2000, MSC acquired the television rights to the Minnesota Wild, an NHL expansion team which began play that year; the deal was struck by Fox in May shortly before the lawsuit against Comcast was filed as part of its plans to start a Minnesota-based regional sports network. With the acquisition of the Wild broadcasts, MSC adopted FSN-branded graphics, with announcers frequently using the phrase "...live on MSC, Fox Sports Net style" during its game broadcasts.
This culminated in the channel's official rebranding as Fox Sports Net North in April 2001, coinciding with the start of that year's Minnesota Twins season and the opening of Miller Park as the home stadium of the Milwaukee Brewers; the new branding was heavily promoted on-air, on billboards and on bus advertisements. One side effect to the rebranding were resulting reductions to the network's budget; Fox also let the contracts to some events expire, forcing the network to depend more on programming from FSN's national schedule (such as the National Sports Report and You Gotta See This!).
In October 2003, Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad attempted to launch a competing regional sports network, to be named Victory Sports One, which would broadcast all Twins games as well as local college and high school sport events. The channel was also expected to carry a number of locally produced sports shows, the centerpiece of which would be Kent Hrbek Outdoors. Victory Sports One launched in November 2003, however the effort folded in May 2004 after six months due to financial and cable carriage issues; after VS1 ceased operations, Fox Sports Net North absorbed most of the channel's programming including the television rights to the Twins. As a result, Fox Sports Net launched a new "local fans first" initiative, launching the daily regional news program Minnesota Sports Report and adding regular broadcasts of high school sport events.
In April 2006, still lacking a local news program (the now-defunct Minnesota Sports Report originated from Fox Sports Net's studios in Los Angeles' Westwood district), FSN North launched FSN Live, a first-of-its-kind program serving as both a sports news show, and a pre-game and post-game analysis program for the channel's game broadcasts. FSN Live is usually broadcast live and on-location from sports events televised by the channel, though it occasionally originates from the FSN North studios in Minneapolis.
On April 4, 2007, FSN North spun off its Wisconsin subfeed into FSN Wisconsin (now Fox Sports Wisconsin), a separate channel carrying Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks games as well as other events sourced from its former parent channel. In 2009, FSN North rebranded as Fox Sports North as part of a network-wide rebranding of the Fox Sports regional networks.
On December 14, 2017, as part of a merger between both companies, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to acquire all 22 regional Fox Sports networks from 21st Century Fox, including Fox Sports Kansas City. However, on June 27, 2018, the Justice Department ordered their divestment under antitrust grounds, citing Disney's ownership of ESPN. On May 3, 2019, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Entertainment Studios (through their joint venture, Diamond Holdings) bought Fox Sports Networks from The Walt Disney Company for $10.6 billion. The deal closed on August 22, 2019, thus placing Fox Sports North in common ownership with neighboring Sinclair station WUCW in Minneapolis.
Fox Sports North holds the exclusive regional cable television rights to Major League Baseball from the Minnesota Twins (having aired the team's games since 1989, and exclusive rights since 2011),NBA games from the Minnesota Timberwolves (since 1995), NHL games from the Minnesota Wild (since 2000), and Major League Soccer games from Minnesota United FC (beginning in 2018). They also air WNBA games from the Minnesota Lynx as well. The channel also broadcasts NCAA Division I collegiate sporting events from the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, as well as college hockey games from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference schools the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and the St. Cloud State Huskies.
Fox Sports North also distributes some of its programming to Fox Sports Wisconsin, including a reduced schedule of Minnesota Wild games, most NCHC hockey games and competitions sanctioned by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA). Due to blackout restrictions imposed by Major League Baseball and the NBA, Fox Sports North is not permitted to broadcast Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks games televised by Fox Sports Wisconsin.