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Twins 2011 cable deal with FSN means the free TV era is almost over

FOX Sports North has announced that they will be showing all non-nationally televised Twins games in the 2011 season.

That means for the first time ever, you can only catch one of the 150 locally broadcast games if you have cable.

"It's really an industry trend," says Twins spokesperson Chris Iles. "The Twins are one of 15 major league baseball teams that are cable exclusive."

Last year, any Joe Six-Pack could flip on WFTC My29 on a Sunday and catch one of 26 Twins game gratis.

This year, that will only be true for eight games, which will appear on FOX 9. Diehard fans will have to have the hook-up for the rest. Coverage begins Friday, April 1 against the Blue Jays in Toronto, and at the home opener against Oakland on April 8. FSN will also broadcast five spring training games in 2011, starting with a March 14 meeting with the Florida Marlins.

Iles says fans should look on the bright side. FSN will broadcast the games out to a wider, five-state audience and be available in HD.

"We don't look as it as the end of an era," he says. "We look at it as something new."

Local sports author Ross Bernstein agrees that this is probably the future for all TV sports broadcasts, and though the Twins aren't releasing the details of the deal, he speculates this is about money.

"They have a payroll that is going to rival the big boys -- New York, Boston, LA. The Twins are right there," he says. "They've got to find other revenue streams."

He also points out there are ways around shelling out for cable. Bars will show the games, new streaming options are available online and on smartphones, and, of course, we've still got the good old fashioned radio broadcast.

"When it's summer and it's nice, people want to be out at the cabin," he says. "They're listening on the radio. They still feel connected. People are still going to get their fix of the Twins."


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