While DIRECTV finally bowed to Time Warner cable and started carrying the Lakers channel more than a month ago, the dispute with CSN Houston continues. DIRECTV and the regional sports network remain at an impasse, and fans in the area have missed more than half of the Rockets season so far. With baseball season coming soon, is there any chance DIRECTV and CSN Houston will reach a carriage agreement?
The prospects don’t look good. After an initial report before the NBA season that a deal was close, there hasn’t been much news on how negotiations are going. At this point, only 40% of households in the area have access to Comcast SportsNet Houston, mainly those who subscribe to Xfinity TV. The channel is also missing from other big distributors in the area like DISH Network, Suddenlink, Time Warner cable, and AT&T U-verse.
As with most carriage disputes, money is the only issue keeping the Rockets and potentially the Astros off of the air. CSN Houston reportedly wants $3.40 per subscriber monthly – DIRECTV of course is balking at that high price. The most popular sports network – ESPN reportedly pulls in a little more than $5 a month per subscriber.
CSN Houston is owned by three big players. The Houston Astros have a 46% stake, while the Houston Rockets and NBC Universal hold 30% and 22 % interests. Comcast owns NBC Universal, and is of course a fiece competitor of DIRECTV.
With the Astros holding the largest stake, expect negotiation to finally move forward as baseball season approaches in early April. The team is moving to the American League this season, and ownership will finally have the incentive needed to strike a deal with DIRECTV.