Comcast SportsNet Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings said that the network "could be made available immediately to Suddenlink cable customers if the carrier will agree to air the network on its expanded basic service across a five-state area rather than on an extra-cost sports tier in the Houston area only," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Hutchings in a letter yesterday "made his comments" to St. Louis-based Suddenlink Senior VP & Chief Programming Officer Patty McCaskill. Hutchings wrote, "If you agree to put CSN Houston on the same tier as the other regional sports networks you carry, we are in agreement and your customers can begin receiving CSN Houston immediately." The letter was "made public as the Rockets prepare for their first NBA playoff run in four years with the possibility that some playoff games could be available in the Houston area only on CSN Houston" if those games were to air nationally on NBA TV. Suddenlink has a network of "about 1.4 million customers in 16 states" (CHRON.com, 4/17).
With the Mariners taking the controlling stake in a new RSN, Vulcan Sports & Entertainment CEO Peter McLoughlin said at the '13 Sports Facilities & Franchises conference he wants to meet with Mariners President & CEO Chuck Armstrong next week and see "how we can work together." The MLS Sounders' local television rights agreements expire at the end of this season. McLoughlin added, "Our Blazers broadcast rights are held by Comcast SportsNet in Portland, and we're only cleared in half of the Portland DMA, because we're not cleared by DirecTV, and we're not cleared by Dish. And I'm hopeful that maybe with the Mariners at the table, with DirecTV, that maybe we can find a fix for that" (Adam Harris, Assistant Editor)
PASS IT ON: MULTICHANNEL NEWS reported Verizon FiOS has introduced a "new $9.99 'Sports Pass' add-on tier that includes networks currently available in the most expensive programming package (Ultimate HD) and some services that are slated to be removed from a less-inclusive package (Extreme HD) that Verizon advertises as its most popular." The new tier has beIN Sport HD, CBS Sports Network, ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line HD, ESPN Classic, HRTV, Longhorn Network, Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, TVG and World Fishing Network. Verizon in a blog post said that it "might add other channels to the Sports Pass tier" (MULTICHANNELNEWS.com, 4/16).
NEW FACES, NEW PLACES: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted MASN has hired Julie Alexandria to "serve as its sideline reporter" for Nationals coverage. Alexandria has worked in "both sports and entertainment broadcasting, hosting programs for MTV and TLC, for example," while also hosting "Mets Weekly" for SportsNet N.Y. and "working as a college football sideline reporter for Fox" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/17)....In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted former MLBer Craig Counsell last night made his debut "as an analyst" on FS Wisconsin. Counsell on "occasion this season" will appear on the RSN's pre- and post-game show (JSONLINE.com, 4/17).
WORK IN PROGRESS: SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller wrote of IndyCar coverage on NBC Sports Network, "No denying that you don’t have as many homes as being on network and NBC Sports Network is a work in progress." But the net does "seem committed to trying to grow open wheel racing and it’s not like there’s a big line in TV Land fighting for IndyCar so we need to give it time." We also need to "be realistic" about the effects of the Champ Car-IndyCar split from '96-'08 and "maybe 500,000 viewers on cable is our audience" (SPEEDTV.com, 4/17).