Rockets interested in buying full ownership of CSN Houston from Astros

Bob Levey

At the bankruptcy hearing today, Les Alexander discussed an interest in buying the part of CSN Houston that he does not own. What does this mean for the network's future?

For over a year, CSN Houston has been broadcasting the Rockets, Astros, and Dynamo games across Houston. Well, across 40% of Houston. With no distribution deals with DirecTV, U-Verse, or Suddenlink, CSN Houston has struggled to survive and is now at the heart of a massive Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearing, as the network strives for profitability. At the hearing today, Les Alexander said that he is interested in buying the part of CSN Houston that he does not currently own, removing NBC Universal and the Houston Astros from the equation.

Jim Crane seemed to indicate that he was open to such an arrangement, declaring that "the ball is in [Les Alexander's] court." After months and months of little movement, you have to hope that this could be the move that breaks the stalemate and generates some momentum for carriage deals.

At this point, it seems clear that some reorganization is needed if there is any hope for CSN Houston, and the Rockets can change the equation by buying out the Astros and taking them out of carriage negotiations. The Astros reportedly nixed a deal that would've brought CSN Houston to DirecTV last winter, and without them holding back a deal, CSN Houston could be headed to TV screens sooner rather than later.

Still, Les Alexander would have to reach a deal with Crane and that is before even considering NBC Universal, who own 22.7% of the network. NBC Universal hasn't expressed interest in being bought out of their network, and it seems likely that they might be more reticent to jump ship on a venture they have a lot invested in.

At this point, it's not really clear what Alexander's interest in buying the rest of CSN Houston means, but it could be good news. As is the case with everything in this CSN Houston deal, any changes will be extremely slow-moving.

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