Fox Sports Networks (FSN), formerly known as Fox Sports Net, is the collective name for a group of regional sports channels in the United States owned by Diamond Sports Group, a joint-venture company of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Entertainment Studios. Formed in 1996 by News Corporation, the group was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in March 2019 following its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. A condition of that acquisition imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice required Disney to sell FSN by June 18, 2019, 90 days after the completion of its acquisition. Disney subsequently agreed to sell the networks (excluding the YES Network, being reacquired by Yankee Global Enterprises) to Sinclair Broadcast Group, which was completed on August 22, 2019.|
Depending on their individual team rights, some Fox Sports Networks maintain overflow feeds available via digital cable, telco and satellite providers in their home markets, which may provide alternate programming when not used to carry game broadcasts that the main feed cannot carry due to scheduling conflicts. Fox Sports Networks is headquartered in Houston, Texas, with master control facilities based in both Houston and Los Angeles; FSN also maintains production facilities at Stage 19 at Universal Studios Florida (which formerly served as home of Nickelodeon Studios until its closure in 2005).
On July 11, 2000, Comcast purchased a majority interest in the Minneapolis-based Midwest Sports Channel and Baltimore-based Home Team Sports from Viacom. News Corporation, a minority owner in both networks, wanted to acquire them outright and integrate the two networks into Fox Sports Net. The company filed a lawsuit against Comcast ten days later on July 21, in an attempt to block the sale. On September 7, 2000, as part of a settlement between the two companies, Comcast traded its equity interest in Midwest Sports Channel (which became Fox Sports Net North) to News Corporation in exchange for exclusive ownership of Home Team Sports (which subsequently joined competing regional sports network Comcast SportsNet as Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic).
On April 30, 2007, Cablevision sold its 50% interests in the New England and Bay Area networks to Comcast for $570 million; both networks became part of Comcast SportsNet, with FSN New England relaunching as Comcast SportsNet New England in July 2007 and FSN Bay Area relaunching as Comcast SportsNet Bay Area March 2008. Despite Cablevision's sale of the networks, the channels continued to use "Fox Sports Net/National Sports Partners" in its copyright tag until 2008 (the copyright used has since changed to "National Sports Programming").
In a January 2019 SEC filing, Fox Corporation stated that it no longer had any plans to bid for the channels. On January 11, 2019 CNBC reported that Apollo, Blackstone, CVC and other bidders except Sinclair backed out of the deal for the networks with the sole bidder being the Sinclair/CVC joint venture. It was also reported that the possibility of spinning out the channels as an independent company was also being considered. In February 2019, it was reported that Apollo and Sinclair had dropped out (but with the former seeking a new partner), but that Liberty Media and Major League Baseball had made offers. Later that month, it was reported that Pohlad and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores (via his private equity firm Platinum Equity) had joined the Liberty Media bid.
The sale was completed on August 22, 2019. The networks can continue to temporarily use the Fox Sports branding under a transitional license agreement with Fox Corporation; Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley stated that there were plans to eventually rebrand them under either a new name, or to "partner with a brand who wants more exposure". There were also plans to increase non-event programming, and emphasis on sports betting in its programming.
From its inception in 1997 until July 31, 2012, Comcast maintained an agreement to carry select programming sourced from Fox Sports Net on its six Comcast SportsNet regional networks: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Comcast SportsNet California, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Comcast SportsNet New England and Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
Fox Sports Networks also operates Fox College Sports (FCS), a slate of three digital cable channels (Fox College Sports Atlantic, Fox College Sports Central, and Fox College Sports Pacific) featuring programming divided by region (primarily collegiate and high school sports, as well as minor league sports events) from each individual FSN network; the FCS networks also carry each affiliate's regional sports news programs and non-news-and-event programming (such as coaches shows, team magazines, and documentaries). The three networks are, more or less, condensed versions of the 22 FSN-affiliated networks (including Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic), though the channels also show international events that do not fit within the programming inventories of FSN or Fox Soccer Plus (and prior to 2013, the latter's now-defunct parent Fox Soccer), such as the Commonwealth Games, World University Games and the FINA World Swimming Championships.
All of the Fox Sports Networks regional affiliates maintain high definition simulcast feeds presented in 720p (the default resolution format for 21st Century Fox's broadcast and pay television properties). All sports programming broadcast on each of the networks (including most team-related analysis and discussion programs, and non-event amateur sports programs) is broadcast in a format optimized for 16:9 widescreen displays, with graphics now framed within a widescreen safe area rather than the 4:3 safe area, intended to be shown in a letterboxed format for standard definition viewers.
Fox Sports Networks' national sports telecasts were formerly marketed under the "FSN" brand; these national programs began to use more generic branding with fewer references to FSN or Fox in 2008, as a result of a number of Fox Sports Net affiliates being rebranded or realigned with other RSN chains (including FSN New England and FSN Bay Area, which both became part of Comcast SportsNet; FSN New York's relaunch as MSG Plus, the sister to MSG Network; and the eventual relaunch of several FSN affiliates acquired by DirecTV Sports Networks under the Root Sports brand), however these networks have since reverted to utilizing Fox branding on their FSN-syndicated broadcasts.