The Astros Have a Plan (Kind of) to Deal With This Whole CSN Houston Disaster

Categories: Sports

Here comes MLB to save the day (maybe).
This plan is, however, probably contingent on what happens with the bankruptcy case. The Astros broadcast rights are one of CSN Houston's most valuable assets, and by broadcasting the games on other outlets, the value of the asset would be harmed. If a trustee is named at some point, it's possible the trustee would object and not allow the games to be made available to anyone who cannot get CSN Houston. And even if the trustee doesn't object, it's likely that Comcast and the Rockets would storm into the bankruptcy court and ask the judge to deny the Astros the option. But here's my major caveat: I'm not a bankruptcy attorney. It's entirely possible that the trustee and judge would sign off on this plan, in which case fans would then be left to wonder why the Rockets haven't tried it.

And the thinking has to be that this MLB plan is the absolutely last option. The Astros have argued that the bankruptcy was filed so as only to keep them from getting out of the contract with CSN Houston. So if the bankruptcy case is dismissed by the judge, one would think the Astros would opt out of the contract as originally planned and attempt to get a new deal with Fox Sports Southwest. But it's also likely that should the bankruptcy case be dismissed and the Astros try to sign a deal with another provider or go the MLB.TV route, Comcast would file a suit of some type attempting to block the move.

It's good to see that the Astros are looking at other avenues for making their games available in Houston. But it seems that it's just not going to be that easy. There's the whole bankruptcy matter to deal with. There's the contract with Comcast. There's the fact that the Astros are partial owners of the network and that these moves could harm the network. But maybe the MLB involvement will make everything better -- its online platform is the best in sports, however, and MLB Network has the most complete carriage of any of the sports-owned networks.

Frankly, I still think the best, most realistic path to getting Astros games on TV for all (and the Rockets) will come about because of actions of the Rockets. It could be the Rockets buying out the Astros, guaranteeing the Astros that they'll be paid no matter what, then working out carriage agreements with the rest of the region's cable and satellite providers. It could be the Rockets working out a merger with Fox Sports or DirecTV or AT&T.

We'll know more on February 4 when all the parties report back to Judge Marvin Isgur. Maybe the Rockets will spring a deal on everybody. Maybe the judge will say enough and appoint a trustee to run things. Or maybe he'll just dismiss the bankruptcy and kick everybody out of his courtroom. But as much as I want to be optimistic, and I was really optimistic a couple of weeks ago when the Rockets talked of a possible AEG involvement, I'm just finding it hard to keep thinking positive thoughts.

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I wouldn't be paying for another service (mlb network/online package) to see the Astros play when I already pay for cable tv that it SHOULD be available on in the Houston market.  nice try though jim! 

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