What The Disney-Fox Deal Could Mean For Minnesota Sports Fans

The Walt Disney Co. announced this morning that it has struck an all-stock, $52.4 billion deal with 20th Century Fox. The deal includes the historic 20th Century Fox movie studio, FX and National Geographic cable channels, and Fox Sports Networks including Fox Sports North.

The deal still has to be approved by antitrust regulators, but if it does go through there will be massive, noticeable changes in the entertainment industry, especially in sports television.

Fox Sports North is one of the 22 Fox regional sports networks that is a part of the deal, meaning Disney-owned ESPN will take over operations and brand the channel under the ESPN umbrella. Whether it's known as ESPN North, ESPN Minnesota, or something else, it’s looking like ESPN will no longer be known as just a national sports brand, but also the home to the Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, and Lynx.

There are many unanswered questions about this move. While the network’s name and graphics will be changed, what about the on-air talent? Will there still be pregame and postgame shows? How will ESPN use their new regional sports networks to compliment their national network’s content?

Another question has to do with Fox Sports North’s signature product and perhaps the biggest example of why having local networks can be a huge benefit for a community. If this deal goes through, will ESPN carry the torch and continue with Hockey Day Minnesota? If ESPN decides not to, could the Wild partner with another local TV station in the area to handle the high school and college broadcasts? 

With ESPN’s history of televising sporting events, the quality of the local broadcasts will not be in question. However, the amount of local coverage ESPN invests in the 22 communities it’s about to enter outside of the game broadcasts will be.

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