Welcome to the New Normal: Where Houston Sports Fans Can't Actually See Teams Play

Categories: Sports

Photo by Ed Schipul
This is what an Astros game looks like when it's packed.
The Houston Astros host the New York Yankees tomorrow night. It's Opening Day, the team's second as a member of the American League. The game will be aired on CSN Houston for anybody unwilling to pay the exorbitant prices brought on by the Astros' dynamic pricing model. That means that most of the Houston area will be unable to see the game as the Astros start season number two with CSN Houston available only on Comcast and some minor cable systems.

This is the new normal for Astros fans, and fans of the Rockets and Dynamo, a new normal marked by the inability to view the games on television. The network's in bankruptcy, Jim Crane has sued Drayton McLane and Comcast for fraud over the value of the network. The Astros and Rockets have taken the lead in attempts to get carriage deals for the network, and they've failed.

The CSN Houston parties met in the chambers of Judge Lynn Hughes on Friday. While there they signed an order that allowed the judge to mediate the case. He gave it a shot. That mediation appears to have failed. (A note for those who read the Houston Chronicle story on this matter: there is no language in this signed order that opens up the possibility of more mediation. The order was drafted to specifically allow for a mediation last Friday, and last Friday only).

The concept of mediation of legal cases is a good idea in theory. It gets the parties of a litigation under one roof where they can air grievances without fear of legal repercussions. The goal's to get the parities talking, to get them off of their extreme positions, to find a compromise all involved can live with. The case settles, there's no hard feelings, and money's saved because of the sudden lack of billable attorney hours.

The problem with mediation is a simple one: all parties have to be open to compromise. If a party's not open to the topic, there's no amount of talking that will change any minds. Only the parties to the mediation session know what was said on Friday, or what the mindsets were, but the issues weren't settled, and based on public statements over the past six months since this thing started, about the only party open to any kind of compromise or settlement appears to be the Rockets, and in the case of CSN Houston, there are three parties that must be open to the idea.

So the network continues to be unavailable to most of Houston -- it needs to be remembered that even if the mediation would've settled the bankruptcy matters, the judge had no authority whatsoever that could force Direct TV, Uverse, Time-Warner, Dish, to add the network to their lineups. The Astros' appeal of the bankruptcy order continues. The bankruptcy court's work toward keeping the network on air continues (i.e., paying salaries and paying vendors), and the fraud lawsuit continues to hover between state and federal court.

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Quintin Outland
Quintin Outland

I believe a few weeks ago you advised fans to NOT watch (enjoy/support) the Astros this year? O.o So, what's your aim here????


I applaud the carriers who are standing up to the Sports teams. The teams and the cable companies put these deals together because they assumed that live sports (which are the only reliable way for advertisers to get in front of young male consumers) would allow them to charge whatever they wanted. Guess what? Without true money magnets like the NFL and maybe SEC football, they significantly overestimated their bargaining position and are now paying the price.

I am as big a sports fan as you will find, but am sick of what the whole mess has become. McLane runs the Astros into the ground, sells out and makes a bundle because of the promised riches of this TV contract. The new owner sells the fans down the river by changing leagues, stocks the team with a bunch of minor leaguers which leads to historically bad results and makes obscene profits because of his awful roster. Now he is crying because these profits are based on a house of cards and wants his money back. The Dodgers ridiculous player contract structure is even worse, though at least their fans can hear about a good team on the radio since TV will not be available for most of them either.

I hope that there will be a major correction in the next few years and some sort of rationality will come back to the process. Not holding my breath however. When the Astros start winning again, the lemmings will flock back to the stadium and help drive the mess to the next level.

Vincent Aurelio
Vincent Aurelio

They just want to make it easier for Houstonians to become fans of other teams or remain fans of teams in the cities they moved from. It's a brilliant plan. Anyone who cannot understand this brilliant plan is obviously unqualified to be a sports front-office genius.


Stopped attending Astro games in 2010

Very seldom if ever watched them on TV

Quit listing to the radio broadcast after Milo was ran out of Chicago.

I go to several Rice and U of H games each year and occasionally catch a Skeeters game.

Don't miss the juice box, $20.00 parking nor the sloppy play


Try the Dynamo. Affordable prices, approachable players and the only team in Texas that wins anything. Even if you aren't a soccer fan you will be after watching this team. Class act, grounded players and the best management in town.

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