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Fox Locks Down Motown Jocks

Fox Sports Network (FSN) locked up long-term rights deals with Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers, the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons and the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings in the Detroit market. The move basically eradicated any possibility of a startup regional sports network in the market in the near future.

FSN Detroit, serving 3.2 million subscribers in Michigan and parts of Ohio and Indiana, gets exclusive carriage of all local telecasts for the three teams, with each deal running at least 10 years. The Tigers deal, which begins this season, will see up to 152 regular-season games on the cable network this year, including 103 in HD.

The Pistons deal, which kicks in next year, gives FSN the rights to all local telecasts for the first time. FSN has aired up to 40 games per season for the past 10 years. The Red Wings deal is an extension of a 2003 deal that already gave FSN local exclusivity for the hockey team. Reports put the value of the deals at more than $1 billion over the 10-plus years.

Says FSN Detroit general manager Greg Hammaren: "These agreements solidify FSN's position as the preeminent sports-media outlet in Michigan and a dominant force in local sports."