Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CSN Houston: A Timeline

Let's try to put what the heck has happened with CSN Houston in a space-time continuum.

November 2010: Details emerge on the new Astros/Rockets RSN partnership.

May 2011: Baseball sources confirm that Jim Crane will buy the Astros from Drayton McLane for $680m, with sources reporting that McLane will receive $93m for his share of the new regional sports network to launch in late 2012.

October 1, 2012: CSN Houston launches. Kevin Eschensfelder hosts the first SportsTalk Live, with Jeff Luhnow, Jeremy Lin, and Matt Schaub.

January 15, 2013: Houston Press runs a story saying that there was a last-minute deal on the table with CSN Houston and DirecTV, but the Astros blocked it.

March 14: DirecTV reiterates that they want to make CSN Houston available on a sports tier package, allowing fans to choose whether they want to pay for the network. CSN Houston replies saying "We do not understand why they are pushing for CSN Houston to be the first and only RSN in the nation to be carried on a premium tier."

March 28: On the eve of Opening Day, Jim Crane promises not to blink on caving in negotiations.

March 31: Opening Night is the Rangers @ Astros. Only 92,000 households in Houston watch the game on ESPN.

April 1: Crane says there was a "little movement" with talks, but no deal was imminent.

April 2: First Astros game to be carried by CSN Houston (Yu Darvish's near-perfect game). Crane says talks are at a standstill. Crane advises fans to call and complain, or switch their cable provider.

April 3: DirecTV still wants to put CSN Houston on a tiered package.

April 5: Houston mayor Annise Parker asks officials from DirecTV, U-Verse, and Suddenlink to meet with her and officials from CSN Houston. All parties are willing to meet, but reiterate that the asking price is too high, and the network belongs on a tiered package.

April 16: The Astros offer two free tickets to an April 22 game against the Mariners in exchange for signing the IWantCSNHouston petition.

April 25: CSN Houston offers a "Freeview," allowing DirecTV, Suddenlink, and UVerse to pick up the network at no cost. All decline.

May 1: CSN Houston accuses Suddenlink of showing bias to Dallas (Fox Sports Southwest is on regular-tier programming).

May 17: The Astros are projected to receive almost $78m in revenue in 2013.

May 20: Awful Announcing reports that the Astros are asking more for CSN Houston than the Yankees get for the YES Network.

July 15: The Wall Street Journal reports that UVerse studied sports-viewing habits and used advanced data in their decision not to pick up CSN Houston.

July 22: Media and communications research firm SNL Kagan says that CSN Houston is the battleground between teams and cable providers, and the future is a "bust" for RSNs.

That same day, Rockets blog The Dream Shake reports from a source that CSN Houston's future is in jeopardy.

September 22: CSN Houston posts a 0.0 rating in a Sunday Astros loss to the Indians (note: the Texans were playing. And losing.)

September 27: Comcast/NBC Universal file involuntary chapter 11 bankruptcy petition against CSN Houston. Astros are pissed.

September 30: Crane vows, "You will see us on TV" in 2014. Crane says "There's a possibility" the Astros and CSN Houston will part ways. CSN Houston president/general manager Matt Hutchings resigns.

October 10: Crane thinks the involuntary bankruptcy petition is actually a Comcast effort to gain control of CSN Houston.

October 22: The Rockets break with the Astros and now support Comcast's involuntary bankruptcy petition.

October 28: Judge Marvin Isgur considers allowing both the Rockets and Astros to pursue separate carriage deals.

November 21: Jim Crane sues Drayton McLane (and Comcast, NBC Universal, and the President of NBC Sports Group) for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and civil conspiracy.

January 21, 2014: MLB says Astros games could be available via streaming, if they don't get CSN Houston's issues settled before Opening Day.

February 12: Comcast buys Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion.

February 17: The Astros and Rockets claim they are each owed more than $27m in unpaid rights fees.

March 17: Comcast says they will not buy out the Astros and Rockets.