Comcast SportsNet Houston, broadcast home to the Astros and Rockets, announced their schedule for the upcoming Rockets season on Wednesday. The network will carry 75 of the Rockets games during the regular season (the remaining six will be national broadcasts) as well as all preseason games. With the Dwight Howard signing and all the young talent, interest in the team is sure to be high going into the season.
CSN will also provide in-depth analysis of the games before, during and after, with programming throughout the week as well. If you have not had a chance to watch the coverage of the team on CSN, you really are missing out. It is top notch. And therein lies the problem. CSN is only available on Comcast and a handful of other small cable providers in the city of Houston, what amounts to about 40 percent of the viewing public.
CSN really is a very good broadcast network. They have hired good on-air and behind-the-scenes staff. Their facility is fantastic and situated perfectly in downtown to host events like the tailgate they are hosting Friday before a huge weekend of college and pro football. But, if only 40 percent of the public can actually see it, what does it matter?
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There were rumblings that a deal might not be that far off a couple months back. Astros owner Jim Crane even hinted at the possibility of a deal. But, the stalemate with U-Verse, DirecTV and DishNetwork continues thanks mainly to the unwillingness of the Astros to budge on their offer. The other carriers have, thus far, been uninterested in entertaining the offer on the table. And they really have no reason to rush to the table.
While the Rockets may very well be a huge draw this year, that is mitigated by the fact the Astros are absolutely God awful. Their ratings are the lowest Major League Baseball has seen from any team in nearly a decade. They are on their way to another 100-loss season and there are times when they are playing late-night West coast games it wouldn't surprise me if only a few hundred people out of 6 million in the region are watching.
And since there has yet to be a mass exodus from these carriers over to Comcast, it is doubtful progress will be made simply on the hope that the Rockets will draw big enough ratings to boost revenues substantially. It would be a serious bummer if a deal wasn't struck before the regular season, but the networks really have no incentive at this point.
Still, if you do have CSN, you'll get to see some really awesome coverage of a team in the Rockets that should be exciting and seriously fun to watch.