SBD/Issue 176/Sports Media

Comcast Emerges As Favorite To Obtain Astros, Rockets TV Rights

Comcast Is Front Runner To
Obtain Local TV Rights For Astros

Comcast has emerged as the "clear front-runner in the bid to obtain local TV rights" for the Astros and Rockets, according to sources cited by John Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Comcast officials are "expected in the next few weeks to fly to Houston, where they could finalize the deal," which would "lead to the launch of a new regional sports network in the market" starting with the '12-13 NBA season. In order to make the deal, the Astros and Rockets are expected to "exercise an out-clause to their long-term rights deals" with FS Houston. Exact terms of those deals are not known. Under Comcast's bid, the Astros and Rockets would own a combined 70-80% of Comcast SportsNet Houston, "with Comcast holding the balance." If the Comcast deal is completed, it would be a "blow to Fox Sports Net, which has held the rights to the teams for a decade." FS Houston will continue to carry Astros and Rockets games for the next two seasons. Ourand notes the teams also "considered selling their rights to a combined bid from DirecTV and AT&T," but sources "described that bid currently as a long shot" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/24 issue). Astros Owner Drayton McLane yesterday said that talks "continue and that he has no timetable to determine when a deal could be reached." McLane: "We're talking with three candidates. We're in the process of evaluating everything, but no decision has been made. It's not pressing. We do need time to prepare, but there's no real rush on this" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/25).

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