CSN Houston Owners Actually Agreed on Something

Categories: Sports

Hey, the owners actually agreed on something.
The good news is that the Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, and Comcast finally found something on which to agree. The bad news is that the agreement's on how much the attorneys handling the bankruptcy of Comcast SportsNet Houston should be paid.

The parties are still battling things out in court, the Astros trying to get the ruling putting the network into bankruptcy overturned. The Rockets and Comcast are fighting the Astros, and except for the agreement about bankruptcy attorney fees, there appears to have been zero progress. Astros owner Jim Crane did say last week that he was expecting Comcast to make another offer to buy out the Astros share of the network, but as of this posting, there's been nothing further on that.

Reading the appellate briefs filed over the past several weeks, one thing is becoming apparent, the disagreement's not really between the Astros and Comcast/Rockets. The disagreement's between Jim Crane and Drayton McLane.

The Astros say the network isn't paying enough for the media rights, that the team needs the network to be profitable to make up for the bad media rights deal, and that the Rockets and Comcast do not care about the financial health of the Astros.

But the media rights the Astros are receiving (or were receiving before the network went broke) are the fees that were negotiated by the Astros. The Astros are getting paid what the Astros desired to be paid, and while the Astros might not now be happy with the deal, it is the deal the Astros agreed to, though it was Drayton McLane who agreed to the deal when he was still owner.

Jim Crane doesn't like the deal. The Astros state the fees being received by the network are well below that of the other teams in the division. The problem is that Crane should have been aware of this information before purchasing the team, and this information should have been used to get the cost of the team lowered. And the Astros are essentially telling all involved that the only network deals it will approve are ones that insure the network is profitable.

The Astros want this bankruptcy dismissed because it will return the media rights, which the Astros can then offer to the highest bidder. There's no assurance that any new deal would be as good as the one the Astros currently have -- it's really hard to see Fox Sports Southwest or Direct TV offering the Astros the same amount of money in media rights as that being paid to the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And there's definitely no assurance that any entity would even offer the team the same amount that it's supposed to be receiving from CSN Houston, so it is really hard to figure out the endgame.

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