I’ve always had a disdain for Comcast. I like to call them communistcast because of the way they treat their cable customers (clever right?). I’ve gone out of my way to avoid using their services which has not always been easy as a resident of Houston for the majority of my life. Comcast owns a huge chunk of the cable market in Houston. So when I heard that the Rockets’ and Astros’ RSN (Regional Sports Network) that the two teams will be creating after this year will be run by Comcast I was more than a little worried.
Last year the Rockets and Astros ended their long relationship with Fox Sports to start a network that they would own. Fox offered the teams a boat load of money to sign a 10 year contract but the teams felt like ownership of their own RSN could be exponentially more lucrative. The teams own about 80% of the network and Comcast gets the rest.
So why should anyone care about this? Doesn’t it just mean that you will find your local sports on a different channel this year than you did last year?
Maybe. But it could mean more…
Why you should be worried
If you’re like me (then you really should do something about your cholesterol) you receive your cable from someone other than Comcast. I use AT&T Uverse because I don’t like to give my money to big corporations. But there are other options out there too that aren’t Comcast. Direct TV, Dish network, and digital rabbit ears are all options. But, to date, Comcast doesn’t have a deal in place to air their network on these outlets. There is a chance (probably not a good one) that you will have to either go without or sign your life away to the evil Comcast empire to see Astros and Rockets games next year.
Why I’m optimistic
Fox does a great job with live events. I know someone who works there and sees the great dedication to creating a quality signal so that the viewer can enjoy a solid HD experience. However (that should read like Stephen A. Smith says it), you would be hard pressed to name another program on Fox Sports Houston. Their programming is beyond bad and the truth is they don’t care. They make their money off of the live games and they aren’t interested in spending money anywhere else.
A new RSN could mean new great local coverage. It is pathetic that a city of Houston’s size doesn’t have decent coverage of the local sports scene.
Enter Matt Hutchings the new General Manager and President of the RSN.
Hutchings is a local Houstonian (Friendswood High School graduate) who made a name for himself when he ran the Altitude network in Denver. Altitude is an RSN in Denver that does more than air games. They cover sports. They have live sports news programs, they cover local high school games and they report on stories that fans care about. If the Rockets and Astros really want to use this network to expand their fan base then they will let Hutchings bring the Altitude concept to Houston (which is essentially at sea-level).