It's only been a little since CSN Houston launced, and we've already seen the channel stretch into areas around Houston. Slowly, but surely, the new home of both the Rockets and the Astros is spreading through the Houston market.
But, there are plenty of important markets for Astros fans in Texas. As we are all aware, MLB's outdated blackout policies mean that anyone in the state cannot access Astros games through MLB.TV, meaning that if fans want to watch Astros games next season, they have to do it through a cable provider.
Now, negotiations are underway right now to bring the channel to a wide swath of fans, and two of the biggest in this respect are DirecTV and Dish. With the number of satellite subscribers now, even in the Houston area, that's a significant part of the market. Add in AT&T Uverse and there are plenty of Houston area subscribers who don't get the channel right now.
Still, CSN Houston and the Astros have to worry about more than just the Houston area if they want to keep their current reach and avoid the Rangers barging into their territory. Which areas right now are vulnerable? As far as I can tell:
All of those areas have cable providers who haven't reached deals with CSN Houston yet. Apparently, Comcast is available in Corpus, and I assume they carry CSN Houston on that system, but I can't be certain. Any CC area folks want to weigh in on this?
Obviously, there's plenty of time between now and the start of the 2013 season for the station and the systems to come to terms. But, isn't it concerning for fans in those areas? That's a wide swath of fans, some of whom are in real danger of being poached by the Rangers. For instance, the Austin and College Station areas are very much in Central Texas, close enough to Dallas to get sucked into the Rangers sphere of influence quickly. Two years ago, the Rangers brought their AL Champions trophy through College Station in an effort to buoy fan support and you can bet they'll continue to try and make headway in those markets.
I have no doubt that the channel and Astros games will be available in most if not all of those markets by the time the season starts. But, I will be a lot more encouraged when the first of these areas (or one of the satellite providers) picks up the channel.
What do you think? Are you worried about getting Astros games by the first of the season? Are you looking forward to checking out the new channel?