Fox Sports North
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (March 2014)|
|Fox Sports North|
(as WCCO II)
|Network||Fox Sports Networks|
|Owned by||Fox Entertainment Group
(21st Century Fox)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Formerly called||WCCO II (1986–1989)
Midwest Sports Channel (1989–2001)
Fox Sports Net North (2001–2004)
FSN North (2004–2008)
|Sister channel(s)||Fox Sports 1& 2
Fox Sports North Plus, Fox Sports Wisconsin
|Dish Network||412-26 (SD)
|Available on select cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
Fox Sports North is an American regional sports network serving Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northern Iowa, Upper Michigan along the Wisconsin border and the eastern parts of North Dakota and South Dakota that is operated as an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks. The channel is owned by Fox Cable Networks, a unit of the Fox Entertainment Group division of 21st Century Fox. Fox Sports North has three separate feeds: the "metro" feed which is broadcast to the Twin Cities and surrounding areas; the "outstate" feed which is seen in the rest of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, extreme western Wisconsin, and satellite subscribers; and the "Wisconsin" feed which serves that state.
Fox Sports North started as a cable project that was launched by CBS affiliate WCCO-TV (channel 4, now an owned-and-operated station of the network) in 1986 called WCCO II. Originally intended as a general programming complement to the over-the-air WCCO, it gradually became more sports oriented and relaunched in 1989 as Midwest Sports Channel.
MSC's main draws in its early days were games from the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota North Stars. It was also affiliated with the SportsChannel America network and filled out its broadcasting day with a mix of SCA programs and tickers, and paid programming. 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 Continental Cablevision added it to St. Paul's extended basic cable lineup in 1994.
Ownership change and affiliation with FSN
In 1992, CBS bought the network, along with WCCO-TV and WCCO radio. In 1995, MSC expanded its professional sports lineup by landing a cable broadcast deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. By this point, the channel became an affiliate of the Prime Sports Network. The following year, the Wisconsin Sports Network (a gametime-only network broadcasting Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks games), which had been owned by Milwaukee's Time Warner Cable franchise and Group W (whose parent company, Westinghouse, had just merged with CBS), was folded into MSC, giving the network a broader reach in the Midwest, the Brewers and Bucks deals, and a stable of outstanding local outdoors shows. In 1997, MSC became an affiliate of Fox Sports Net.
In late 1999, Comcast acquired MSC from CBS. News Corporation (a minority owner in the network) tried to block the deal with a lawsuit. In 2000, as part of a settlement, Comcast swapped its equity in MSC to News Corporation in exchange for a 100% ownership in Baltimore-based regional sports network Home Team Sports, making MSC fully owned by Fox, while HTS became Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. WCCO continued to provide MSC with a 4:30 a.m. replay of its 10 p.m. newscast until the sale to Fox closed.
The fall of 2000 marked the return of NHL hockey to Minnesota with the debut of the Wild franchise, and MSC broadcast much of the inaugural season. This also marked the first time that FSN-branded graphics were used on a locally produced broadcast, and the announcers made frequent use of the phrase "...live on MSC, Fox Sports Net style." The name change to Fox Sports Net North was made official in April 2001 to coincide with the start of the new Twins season and the opening of the Brewers' Miller Park, and was called out on the air, on outdoor billboards, and even bus advertisements. One side effect to the rebranding was also cuts to the network's budget and Fox letting some local rights expire and move elsewhere, forcing the network to depend more on the national FSN schedule with shows like the National Sports Report and You Gotta See This!.
In October 2003, Twins owner Carl Pohlad attempted to launch a competing RSN called Victory Sports One; it would broadcast all Twins games for the foreseeable future, as well as local college and high school sports. VS1 was also to have a number of locally produced sports shows, the centerpiece being Kent Hrbek Outdoors. This effort only lasted six months, as VS1 folded in May and allowed FSN to absorb most of its programming including the Twins. As a result, Fox Sports Net launched a new "local fans first" initiative, launching the Minnesota Sports Report and the regular airing of prep sports.
In April 2006, still lacking a local news program (the now-defunct Minnesota Sports Report originated from FSN's studios in Los Angeles' Westwood district), FSN North launched FSN Live, a first-of-its-kind show that served as part local sports news show, part pre- and post-game bumper. FSN Live is usually broadcast live and on-location from sporting events, though occasionally it originates from FSN North's Minneapolis studio. In 2009, FSN North's name was changed to Fox Sports North after the nationwide switch to make FSN a more syndicated channel.
The Wisconsin version, since spun off of Fox Sports North to create Fox Sports Wisconsin, currently airs Brewers and Bucks events, pregame, postgame, and fan shows, along with some Minnesota Wild events, Minnesota college hockey team games and WIAA competitions (because of blackout restrictions, Brewers and Bucks games never appear on Fox Sports North). A reduced schedule of Wild hockey games air within Wisconsin, and a package of Brewers games was sub-licensed to Milwaukee independent station WMLW-CA (channel 41) between 2007 and 2011, with FSN producing the telecasts and WBME-CA owner Weigel Broadcasting selling advertising. The agreement was discontinued in 2012 with the launch of Fox Sports Wisconsin's "Plus" channel.
MSC and Fox Sports North has been the cable television home to several professional and college teams: Major League Baseball
- Minnesota Timberwolves (1995–present)
- Minnesota Golden Gophers
- University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
- UND Fighting Sioux
- Minnesota State Mavericks
- St. Cloud State Huskies
- Brian Anderson - Milwaukee Brewers play-by-play announcer (now on Fox Sports Wisconsin)
- Bert Blyleven - Minnesota Twins analyst
- Dick Bremer - Minnesota Twins play-by-play announcer
- Ann Carroll - FS North host/reporter
- Mike Greenlay - Minnesota Wild analyst
- Tom Hanneman - Minnesota Timberwolves play-by-play announcer
- Darby Hendrickson - Minnesota Wild Pre/postgame analyst
- Jon McGlocklin - Milwaukee Bucks analyst (now on Fox Sports Wisconsin)
- Davey Nelson - Milwaukee Brewers pre/postgame analyst
- Jim Paschke - Milwaukee Bucks play-by-play announcer (now on Fox Sports Wisconsin)
- Jim Petersen - Minnesota Timberwolves analyst
- Bill Schroeder - Milwaukee Brewers analyst (now on Fox Sports Wisconsin)
- Roy Smalley - FS North Minnesota Twins Pre/postgame analyst
- Tony Smith - Milwaukee Bucks Pre/postgame analyst
- Doug Woog - Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Specialist (Desk analyst)
A logo bug appears on the top right screen during regular programming. For most programs (including nationally-televised sports and local collegiate coverage) the Fox Sports logo is shown with a dark blue, rounded arrow shaped drop-down containing the word "NORTH". The bottom of the drop-down contains a small arrow, colored light blue. During local sporting telecasts, the logo changes. For Twins baseball games and Twins Live, the text in the drop-down changes to "TWINS" (so that the bug reads Fox Sports Twins), with the arrow at the bottom of the drop-down shown in red. During Wild hockey games and Wild Live, the text in the drop-down changes to "WILD", with the arrow at the bottom of the drop-down again shown in red. And for Timberwolves basketball games (as well as Timberwolves Live), the text in the drop-down changes to "WOLVES", with the arrow at the bottom of the drop-down shown in green.
- FS-North, Twins announce TV schedule Fox Sports North February 16, 2011