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Rockets' Addition Of Dwight Howard Could Bolster CSN Houston Carriage Negotiations
Published July 15, 2013
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LINES DRAWN IN THE SAND: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman writes when the Astros and Rockets launched CSN Houston last October, they were "following the lead of other professional-sports teams that have given up guaranteed rights payments from broadcasters for equity in a potentially valuable asset." Sources said that the Astros and Rockets "turned down deals from longtime broadcaster Fox Sports Southwest valued at about" $60M per year for the Astros and $25M per year for the Rockets. By forming a partnership with Comcast, the "biggest pay-TV operator in the U.S., the two teams hoped their network would become part of the basic programming offered by Texas' television providers." The net "asked providers to pay a monthly fee of $3.40 for each of their subscribers, making it one of the most expensive cable sports networks in the country." Rockets CEO Tad Brown said that CSN Houston "deserves the same distribution and fees that other top regional sports networks in the country's biggest markets receive and will eventually be available to all subscribers in the region." Futterman notes cable and satellite TV operators over the past 18 months have "started looking more closely at sports-viewing habits, using data collected from set-top boxes." AT&T said that it used such data in "deciding not to carry the new Houston sports network." AT&T in a statement said, "We'd like to make the channel available to our customers, but the proposed cost is not fair to pass to all of our customers across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, especially based upon our subscribers' historical lack of viewership of Rockets and Astros games" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/15).