SBD/July 19, 2013/Media

Howard Deal Unlikely To Impact CSN Houston Talks, Which May Take "Years" To Reach Deal

Some in Houston hoped Howard's signing would push carriage talks along
Neither Astros rookie P Jarred Cosart or the Rockets' recent signing of free agent C Dwight Howard "packs enough marketing punch to guarantee that all Rockets fans in the 20-county Houston designated market area and all Astros fans across a five-state area will have full access to their games on Comcast SportsNet Houston," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. One analyst recently "predicted that full access for fans who subscribe to DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-verse and other systems will require not only months, but years, to become reality." CSN Houston is "available in about" 40% of the 2.2 million TV households "in the Houston area and in scattered pockets across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico." Data from SNL Kagan showed that while the RSN model "continues to succeed in some markets, CSN Houston 'has been a bust.'" SNL Kagan predicts CSN Houston will be "unable to strike carriage deals until" '14 with Suddenlink and '15 with DirecTV. Price remains a "key issue for both sides, but distribution is critical, too, and the unique nature of the CSN Houston footprint continues to complicate matters." Rockets games are "limited by NBA territorial restrictions" and "cannot be seen in Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio or Austin." By comparison, Astros games "can be beamed across the entire five-state region." But the Astros "share the territory with Rangers games on Fox Sports Southwest." Barron notes while it would "benefit the Rockets to agree to a deal that would provide immediate, full carriage in the Houston 'inner market' while talks continue on the outer markets," CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings "confirmed once more last week that all of CSN Houston's carriage talks focus on a deal that would cover the entire five-state region" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/19).
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