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ESPN IN THE BIDDING FOR LOCAL RIGHTS TO ROCKETS GAMES
Published October 14, 1997
ESPN has "become the latest bidder" for Rockets home TV rights, joining Houston's KHTV and Fox Sports Southwest for the rights to 37 games, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Rockets Exec VP John Thomas said that ESPN's interest "did not come as a shock" as there has been "industry speculation" that it is looking to create a local sports network. Thomas: "ESPN is participating in this business now and building a brand-new business, and you can imagine with the size of the entity the value they could potentially bring. We need to carefully consider the possibility." Barron added that ESPN would have "to come to an agreement with the Rockets and then negotiate with local cable carriers for a spot to broadcast the games." ESPN's interest may "play out as incentive" for Fox Sports Southwest to increase its bid for the team, as the Rockets have the best rating of the 11 NBA teams that are broadcast on Fox Sports Net (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/10).