CSN Houston To Carry 157 Astros Games, Plans For Large Studio Presence
Comcast SportsNet Houston this season will air 157 Astros games, along with live pre- and postgame shows, all in HD. The net's first regular-season Astros broadcast will be Tuesday at 7:00pm CT (CSN Houston). In Houston, David Barron notes Bill Brown "returns for a 27th season, working about a hundred games on play-by-play and about 40 on pre- and postgame shows." Alan Ashby will work with Brown on "home games and will share most road duties with former Astros player Geoff Blum, who makes his TV debut." While CSN Houston remains "short on household penetration, it will provide major coverage upgrades" over FS Houston. Former Astros manager Art Howe and former MLBers Eric Young and Mike Stanton will "work as studio analysts for pre- and postgame shows alongside Brown and hosts Marius Payton, Bill Doleman and Cory Hepola." Julia Morales will "work as a roving reporter," and other CSN Houston personnel, including former Padres studio host Leila Rahimi, will "contribute to pre- and postgame shows." CSN Houston Exec Producer & VP/Production Murphy Brown said that home game broadcasts "will feature nine to 10 cameras, up from six last year." Meanwhile, on the Astros radio network, Milo Hamilton's "successor on play-by-play is MLB broadcast rookie Robert Ford, who will be joined by former pitcher Steve Sparks." Ford and Sparks are "less traditional choices," as Ford called MiLB "for seven seasons and spent four years as pre- and postgame host for the Royals' flagship radio station in Kansas City; Sparks' only broadcast experience was as a TV studio analyst." Astros Owner Jim Crane has said that he was the "only voice in Astros management that preferred Ford over a more experienced announcer" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/27).
THIS IS CSN: The CHRONICLE's Barron noted CSN Houston last week launched "yet another carriage ad campaign." This one features CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings "speaking to the camera with a 'you deserve the facts' and 'you deserve the channel' message." One 30-second spot notes that "more than 85,000 viewers have sent messages." Another notes that companies like Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports "continue to invest in new networks, for example, San Diego and Los Angeles, and that DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-verse have agreed to carry them while refusing to reach an agreement with the Houston network." A third says that "even though Houston area fans lost access to the Rockets and Astros when the teams left Fox Sports Houston for CSN Houston, DirecTV, Dish and U-verse did not lower customers' bills." This campaign features "less noise and less emotion than previous 'I want my CSN Houston' pitches" (CHRON.com, 3/21).