Hardball off the field: Astros, Rockets, Dynamo still not available for all viewers
HOUSTON -- There is no shortage of tickets to watch the Astros play in person, but if want to kick back and catch the game in your favorite recliner, you could be out of luck.
This is the time of year you expect to see hardball on the field; not necessarily behind the scenes as it relates to negotiations over a cable sports network. Those negotiations so far have kept the Dynamo, the Rockets, and the Astros off 58 percent of television sets in the Houston region.
David Rodriguez and his son, David Jr., love the Astros, but like ten of thousands of other fans, in person will be the only way to see them if Comcast SportsNet Houston, the Astros, and the Rockets don't reach a deal with several other big cable carriers soon.
"Sports is a big part of Houston and I believe it is important that everybody get a chance to see the Astros on TV," said Rodriguez.
The lack of a deal is about money and availability -- both sides want more of both.
"I do know that it's a top priority for the Astros," said Jeff Luhnow, Astros General Manager.
Luhnow says with a young, unfamiliar team, being on TV is all the more important.
"We want the fans to get to know our players. We have a lot of young players. They're not household names. We're hoping they're going to become household names," he said.
CSN is a joint venture between Comcast, the Rockets, and the Astros. The baseball team, owned by Jim Crane, is the largest stakeholder.
"It's terrible for the fans. We really want to get these games on TV and we're very concerned about. We work on it every day. It's not good. And we feel it'll get worked out relatively soon," Crane said.
Those fans aren't thrilled. With many of them making other arrangements for viewing or getting Comcast, the only major carrier to list CSN.
"It's huge, man. That's our home teams here so we gotta have them on TV," said Eric Hopson.
Another fan, Darryl Reed, told us, "Everybody wants to watch the games, but if you can't watch them at home it gets people to go out, watch it somewhere out with friends and family."
Crane says he switched to Comcast, too, even though he's optimistic about a deal.
"There's been communication today, there was last night. We're still trying to cut a deal that works for the Astros, the Rockets, and Comcast long-term," said Crane.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Comcast SportsNet Houston told us, "We continue to work day and night until this is resolved, but fans should recognize that they hold more power than they realize. We urge all fans to call their television providers and demand the network. At the least, fans should demand a reduction in their monthly bills as many are paying the same amount as last year, except now they are not getting to watch the Astros, Rockets and Dynamo."
We did reach out to representatives from DirecTV, Dish Network, and AT&T for their comments on the negotiations, but only DirecTV responded, saying in part, "We too want to enable any Astros fans to have CSN Houston. If the Astros and Comcast will agree to make the channel available only to those customers who want to pay for it or make it more reasonable for all of our customers, we can have an agreement completed very soon."
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