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CSN Houston to offer 45 days of free coverage to carriers

The Astros have been given control over the negotiations for CSN Houston deals, and it appears as if the network will offer 45 days of free coverage. Will the carriers accept?

Jim Crane, Astros owner
Jim Crane, Astros owner

Since the start of last season, 60% of Houston has been unable to see the Rockets play on their televisions. With a bankruptcy court agreement on Tuesday that allows the Astros to head up negotiations with the carriers, they will hopefully be able to break up the stalemate. Today, we saw the first glimmer of hope, as all three parties involved in CSN Houston have agreed to offer 45 days of free coverage to all the carriers in Houston.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle was the first to report this news, and if the carriers accept it, the channel will go live in time for the Rockets game against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow night. Unfortunately, that "if the carriers accept it" is an important caveat.

Earlier this year, CSN Houston offered the same deal to the carriers, but none of them accepted it. The carriers fear with accepting such a deal is that after seeing the network on their screens, the consumers will demand CSN Houston even more furiously, undermining their negotiating position and forcing them into a worse deal. However, on the flipside, as the season starts and the Rockets generate excitement, the carriers have to protect themselves against losing subscribers to Comcast, the only carrier to provide CSN Houston.

Last year, even with a strong team, few people were leaving DirecTV and U-Verse for Comcast. This year, however, with Dwight Howard in the fold, that threat is much more real. Doing a deal like this helps both sides: It buys time for the carriers to do a deal while protecting them from losing subscribers, and it helps CSN Houston generate support to get the carriers to get a deal done.

Whether the carriers accept a deal like this is a big "if", but they are now under more pressure than ever to get a deal done. Let's hope that Houston gets at least 45 days of Rockets coverage this season.

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