Comcast Pitches Houston RSN

New York -- Comcast is angling to
build another regional sports network,
this one built around the Houston Astros
and Houston Rockets.

Talks continue with ownership of
the Major League Baseball and National
Basketball Association teams, whose
TV rights are currently the property of
Fox Sports-owned Fox Sports Houston
through the conclusion of the 2012 and
2011-12 seasons, respectively. The incumbent
RSN, AT&T U-verse and DirecTV
as a team, and a private-equity
firm are also in TV-rights discussions
with the two clubs.

Under Comcast’s game plan, the
teams would combine to own more
than 70% of the new RSN, with Comcast
SportsNet holding the rest and operating
the service, which would tip off with
the Rockets’ 2012-13 campaign.

This would mark the first CSN addition
since 2007, when Comcast acquired
Cablevision Systems subsidiary
Rainbow Media Holdings’ stakes in FSN
Bay Area and FSN New England and
launched Comcast SportsNet Northwest
in Portland, Ore.

Comcast officials declined comment.

Comcast became the predominant
cable operator in the Houston DMA in
2006, when it dissolved a partnership
with Time Warner Cable. Comcast has
some 700,000 of Houston’s 1.2 million
cable subscribers.

Houston is the nation’s 10th largest
DMA, with some 2.1 million TV

A number of years ago, the Astros and
Rockets tried to form their own network
before agreeing in November 2004 to
keep their games on Fox Sports Southwest
and Fox Sports Houston.

Comcast has other club-owned structures
in CSN Chicago, CSN Bay Area
and SportsNet New York .