SBD/August 8, 2014/Media

AT&T, DirecTV Plan To Rebrand CSN Houston As Root Sports Affiliate

Changes to the network could take effect prior to the NBA season beginning
CSN Houston will be rebranded as Root Sports Houston "under a plan that will convert the financially troubled Astros-Rockets-Comcast partnership into a new company co-owned by AT&T and DirecTV Sports Networks,” according to a front-page piece by David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. DirecTV, which is in the process of merging with AT&T, operates Root Sports affiliates in Pittsburgh, Seattle and Denver. The network name change, as well as new carriage agreements, "could take effect as soon as Oct. 5, the date of the Rockets’ first preseason game.” While the Astros and Rockets would “no longer be co-owners” of the net, the teams “may be on the verge of renewing acquaintances with hundreds of thousands of DirecTV and AT&T U-verse subscribers who have not seen an Astros or Rockets game on CSN Houston in two seasons.” Astros General Counsel Giles Kibbe said, “If this plan is approved, it will provide certainty and rights fees that we have not had in the past two years, and it will provide carriage for our fans to see games throughout the market.” Barron notes the teams “estimate that adding DirecTV and U-verse will double market penetration and triple the network’s revenue from monthly subscriber fees.” Comcast is “expected to object to several aspects of the reorganization plan” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/8).
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