SBD/October 3, 2012/Media

FS Houston Airs Final Astros Game Today; Will Be Reabsorbed Into FS Southwest

With Astros' struggles, local TV ratings declined sharply on FS Houston
Today's Astros-Cubs game is the “final game broadcast for the Astros on FS Houston as the team moves with the Rockets from its longtime home" to the newly-created Comcast SportsNet Houston, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Friday is the “final day of employment for FS Houston employees.” The channel will be “reabsorbed" into FS Southwest, "which will have limited Houston-based programming, including two weekly Texans shows, and a full slate of Rangers games airing in Houston next season.” FS Southwest GM Jon Heidtke said, “It will be business as usual for us, other than the fact we don’t have the Astros and Rockets.” Reporter Patti Smith is “expected to remain with Fox to host the Texans programs,” and anchor Kevin Eschenfelder “already has joined the new channel.” Broadcaster Bart Enis “has not disclosed his plans.” CSN Houston officials “have not commented on Astros plans for 2013, but game analyst Jim Deshaies is expected to return, and studio analyst Steve Sparks could join the network.” Play-by-play voice Bill Brown said that he is “uncertain of his plans for 2013.” Barron notes local TV ratings have “declined sharply for Rockets and Astros games as the teams have struggled and Fox has focused on Dallas-Fort Worth teams” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/3).

: In Austin, Kevin Lyttle notes CSN Houston has “an ambitious live schedule that includes all Astros games, Rockets games, at least 28 regional college football games and six Thursday night high school football games featuring Class 5A teams.” The net’s first live event is tomorrow night, but it "does not have any significant carriage contracts with Central Texas TV providers.” Having Comcast and Time Warner as rivals is “complicating matters.” If no deal is reached before April, the Astros “would begin a new era in the AL without their games being on TV here.” Historically, Central Texas “was Astros’ country.” The lines "have blurred, though, with the changing fortunes” of the Astros and Rangers (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 10/3).
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