Midco (until 2016, known by the full name of Midcontinent Communications) is a regional cable provider, providing a triple play service of Cable television, Internet and telephone service for both North Dakota and South Dakota, along with several communities in Minnesota, Kansas and Wisconsin. The company's business-class service also provides direct fiber-optic communications services via leased data circuits for larger companies.
Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and operated as a joint venture between Midcontinent Media and Comcast, Midco provides service to 200 communities both urban and rural, serving an area that covers over 1.2 million people.
Midcontinent Media was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1931 as the Welworth Theater Company, an operator of movie theaters. The company remained in that business until the 1990s, when it sold its theaters to various chains, including Carmike. In 1952, it bought the Midcontinent Broadcasting Company, owner of KELO-AM-FM in Sioux Falls; the company name changed to Midcontinent Media. The company also bought the construction permit for South Dakota's first television station, KELO-TV, which took to the air in 1953. Midcontinent purchased several other radio and television stations, but began exiting broadcasting in the 1990s (with KELO-TV and its satellites sold off to Young Broadcasting, currently owned by Media General, and later Nexstar), selling off the last of their radio holdings in 2004.
Midco diversified and extended its reach into other areas of the Upper Midwest, providing telephone and cable TV in rural parts of its service area, starting in the 1960s. In 1999, Midcontinent Media and AT&T Broadband (formerly known as TCI) merged their cable operations in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Nebraska into Midcontinent Communications, a joint venture between both companies. The partnership continued after Comcast's purchase of AT&T Broadband.
In the fall of 2008, Charter Communications announced their filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and the sale of some assets in non-critical areas. On October 14, 2008, an article appeared in the Fairmont, Minnesota Sentinel, reporting that Charter was selling parts of their system to Midcontinent Communications, including its Bemidji and International Falls headends. Starting February 1, 2009 Midcontinent Communications took over some Charter's cable systems in Minnesota including Balaton, Bemidji, Canby, Ely, Fairmont, International Falls, Littlefork, Sherburn, and surrounding communities. Other areas in Minnesota were sold off to Comcast.
In June 2011, Midcontinent Communications acquired 33,000 Minnesota and Wisconsin subscribers from US Cable.
Midco previously provided paging service, starting in 1985, but sold its paging services to another South Dakota company, Vantek Communications, in 2004. The former paging service was renamed Midco Connections.
Midco offers a regional sports network called Midco Sports Network (formerly MC23 until August 2010) exclusive to their service in standard and high definition which carries coverage of University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University sports, along with many other smaller colleges in the Dakotas and Minnesota. Midco Sports Network is also the primary television provider for Summit League men's and women's basketball, providing a game of the week along with every game in both tournaments, and they broadcast the Summit League baseball championship. All the Summit League Midco Sports Network productions are simulcast on ESPN3 for areas where Midco Sports Network isn't available.
Midco Sports Network launched a new network, Midco Sports Kansas, in Lawrence. They network broadcasts high school sports and college games in the northeastern Kansas area.