AT&T, DirecTV To Take Over Comcast SportsNet Houston; Will Fans Finally Be Able To See Games?

This is where I could gloat about last night's thumping of the Astros at the hands of the Phillies, but neither team has much to brag about this season.

This is where I could gloat about last night’s thumping of the Astros at the hands of the Phillies, but neither team has much to brag about this season.

Things are looking up for Houston Astros fans. The team isn’t currently in last place, and the ‘stros are outperforming the even more woeful Texas Rangers. Now comes news that some Houston-area sports fans may even get to watch their favorite teams on TV after a bankruptcy court determined to hand over ownership of Comcast SportsNet Houston to AT&T and DirecTV.

CSN Houston launched in Oct. 2012 and took over as the primary broadcaster of games for the Astros and the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The channel was officially owned by Houston Regional Sports Network, a limited partnership involving Comcast, the Astros and the Rockets.

The company could not reach a deal with other carriers like DirecTV or Verizon, meaning only about 40% of the area had the ability to watch these games. In Sept. 2013, Comcast affiliates filed an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, saying that CSN Houston was facing an “urgent financial and corporate government crisis” and could not pay its bills because of “total gridlock” among the partners.

In a reorganization plan [PDF] filed late yesterday with the court, the parties agreed to restructure as a limited liability company with 1,000 common shares, valued at $1 each. AT&T will buy 400 shares and 600 will go to DirecTV, which would then add the Houston channel to its group of ROOT regional sports networks.

The channel would also be made available via AT&T U-Verse, and presumably the two new owners will work with other area providers to hammer out a deal.

What remains to be seen is how friendly AT&T and DirecTV will be with these deals, especially when it comes to Comcast, which is the largest pay-TV provider in the city.

If DirecTV/AT&T, who are currently trying to merge their businesses, try to demand too high a price for the channel, it could leave just as many fans out in the cold.

Bankruptcy court plan calls for AT&T, DirecTV to take over Comcast SportsNet Houston [Chron.com]

DirecTV set to take over Houston RSN it refused to carry [FierceCable]