Rockets Start the Preseason Tonight, But Not on U-Verse or DirecTV
When it comes to preseason sports, there is nothing as boring as professional basketball. Okay, maybe spring college football scrimmages come close, but, overall, preseason in the NBA is a torturous grind and this is coming from someone who loves pro ball. For the hometown team, preseason will provide much needed experience for a group of youngsters the likes of whom hoops fans in Houston haven't seen in a very long time. Unfortunately, if you subscribe to AT&T's U-Verse, DirectTV, Dish Network or a number of other cable providers whose names aren't Comcast, you won't be able to see them get their start, at least not yet.
This season marks the inaugural campaign of the Rockets (and Astros starting in 2013) on Comcast SportsNet Houston. They opened their fancy new digs in the Houston Pavilions on October 1 and, as you might guess by the name, they are a product of Comcast, which means they need to strike deals with other carriers before CSNH is available to everyone.
The Rockets and Astros (and perhaps the Dynamo if Rockets owner Les Alexander is able to purchase the team) have been working on a deal to merge their two franchises' television futures for quite a few years. It finally happened when Comcast offered partial ownership of the new regional cable channel. The network will show high school football and other regional programming along with sports shows featuring local sports highlights and analysis.
This is great if you have Comcast as your cable provider.
Fortunately, it would appear a deal to put the channel on other cable providers has a good chance of happening given the fact that other similar deals were made with Comcast SportsNet stations in other parts of the country like Chicago. But, leverage being what it is, there is no doubt that Comcast will wait until the last possible minute, hoping to get more out of any licensing deal, which likely means we won't see Rockets games on U-Verse, DirecTV or Dish Network until the regular season starts.
With the free fall in ratings for the Rockets over the last couple seasons, it's reasonable to wonder how many will actually be watching the new network, assuming other providers do pick it up.
For now, if you aren't a Comcast subscriber, you'll probably miss the preseason games. Trust me, you won't be missing much.