CSN Houston's Limited Distribution Curtailed Local Ratings For Rockets This Season
Rockets games on Comcast SportsNet Houston during the regular season averaged a 1.1 local rating, a drop of "about one-third" from last year, when games aired on FS Houston and averaged a 1.6 rating, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. FS Houston is available in "all wired households in the market," while CSN Houston is in only about 40% of Houston’s 2.2 million TV households. If full distribution across the market is projected, it is "not unfair to speculate that Rockets games would have averaged in the 2.2 range." The "relatively good news for the Rockets is that the numbers were not down as much you would expect, given the limited audience." The "bad news is that the numbers also indicate the magnitude of the lost opportunity for current success and, perhaps, future growth as the distribution dispute continues." Meanwhile, Astros games on the net are "averaging a 0.4 rating, down from 1.0 for last year’s 107-loss team and down from 1.5 for 2010’s 106-loss team." Even "extrapolated to the full market, Astros ratings would still be down by at least a tenth of a percentage point from last year" (CHRON.com, 5/1).
WAR OF WORDS: Barron noted CSN Houston has "responded by letter to Suddenlink’s offer to carry the network for free through May 31, but only in its Houston-area markets and not across the five-state Astros market area, by accusing the St. Louis-based company of treating fans of Houston sports teams unfairly." CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings wrote Suddenlink’s "desire for a limited free view 'is clearly a rejection of the offer.'” Hutchings wrote, “Your rejection not only continues to deny access to Astros, Rockets and Dynamo fans, but demonstrates how unfairly and differently you choose to treat this channel and your customers.” Meanwhile, there has been "no further movement on the CSN Houston free view offer." DirecTV has "yet to respond to the offer, and a Dish Network spokesman said the company 'is currently evaluating the offer'” (CHRON.com, 5/1).