When Jim Crane mentioned back in October that he would like to be able to find a way around the blackout restrictions for fans, or maybe even stream games online, whille the team figured out a way to convince DirecTV to carry CSN Houston, I was intrigued.
The Astros want people in Houston, and in MLB's outdated blackout zones, to watch the team for free - not for free, of course, but for everyone's cable bill to go up by a couple of bucks a month and hope that everyone just thinks the Gubment is sticking it to them with taxes and fees.
So how do you do that? Find a way around it. The streaming solution is interesting, but it's still relying on people being willing to spend a set amount per month to watch the Astros - which is no better than putting CSN Houston on a tiered plan. The Astros want all However Many Millions of Texans to automatically get the network so the Astros get their cash.
But Crane's new idea, MLB waiving the blackout restrictions on Extra Innings, is just God-awful:
"It hasn't been ruled out, but the bigger possibility is to try to get the games on (Extra Innings). They've got all the games, but you can't see the ones in your area. Is there a way to lift that and figure out some way to charge something for that. That's another option."
That's not an option. That's dumb. If the main problem with CSN Houston is that you're not sure you'll get enough people to pay for CSN Houston on a sports tier package for, say, $3/month, what the hell kind of jump in logic does it take to expect people to pay $49/month from April-August? Because there's absolutely no way MLBAM discounts Extra Innings just for people in the Astros' blackout zone, so that's not an option at all.
Now if Crane can get Nolan Ryan to go "have a little talk" with the head of DirecTV and maybe bring along Sig Mejdal and a wiffle bat with nails sticking out of it, and work something out that way...that would be different.
What this tells me is what you likely already know: This CSN Houston thing isn't getting resolved any time soon.