The Astros Have a Plan (Kind of) to Deal With This Whole CSN Houston Disaster
It's a little more than a week until the CSN Houston parties return to the courtroom of judge Marvin Isgur. Things have been relatively quiet since the last hearing, and it can only be hoped by all involved that the Rockets are close to working out carriage deals that will get the network on air throughout the Houston area.
Astros looking at back-up plans if this whole CSN Houston thing goes under.
But earlier this week the Astros announced that they are working on a back-up plan that will allow the games to be aired in the Houston area this season. Owner Jim Crane told members of the press on Tuesday that the team is working with Major League Baseball to make the games available this season, with MLB Network producing the games and showing them online and on television.
While the Astros are unable to provide more details, an educated guess would be that MLB would probably make available its MLB.TV Internet platform and its Extra Innings cable package. These packages are available to all baseball fans, at a reasonable price, but due to league rules, Astros games are blacked out in the area that MLB has deemed to be Astros viewing territory (all of Texas and parts of Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas). Thus MLB would probably waive these blackout rules so that subscribers could watch the Astros games on their computers through MLB.TV or on TV with Extra Innings.
There is of course the slight issue of having to pay for MLB.TV or Extra Innings (there'll surely be some objections raised by people already paying for cable or satellite services who don't want to pay extra because of something that's not their fault. But as a baseball fan, I'm a longtime subscriber to MLB.TV who watches tons of out-of-market games each week of the season). There's also the question of whether fans could get a discount price that just allows access to Astros games. It's also entirely possible that MLB would produce the games and find an over-the-air partner for the games.
This is potentially good news for Astros fans -- yes, they do still exist -- who are undoubtedly dreading another year of not being able to view the games. And the move is not without precedent as the NBA has waived its blackout rules in past years to allow Portland Trail Blazers games to be streamed in Portland because of the inability of CSN Northwest to get carriage deals in place for most of Oregon. But while it would be good news for Astros fans, it would probably be the final nail in the coffin for CSN Houston.