It's been just over two years, 324 regular season baseball games, 166 (and counting) regular season basketball games, 70-plus regular season soccer matches, and countless hours of high quality coverage of Houston sports on CSN Houston. For some it's been two years in the dark, for other it's been two years of holding a hidden jewel as CSN Houston only reached the forty percent of the Bayou City. The dividing wall between Houston sports fans may soon be coming down. Federal bankruptcy judge Marvin Isgur heard final arguments from both sides on the CSN Houston case on Thursday, and ruled in favor of the Astros, Rockets and DirecTv/AT&T. The new partnership between the four parties can go forward with transitioning CSN Houston to Root Sports Houston.
The case originated on September 27, 2013, after failing to get coverage outside of Comcast, CSN Houston parent company NBCUniversal filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. NBCUniversal claimed it needed to restructure the network for it be profitable in the future. The news would later come out that the network hadn't been paying the rights fees for the Astros and Rockets since last 2013. After the case was passed between the state and federal level, Judge Marvin Isgur placed CSN Houston under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 4, 2014. The Astros and Rockets presented their new plan to join forces with Directv and AT&T on August 6, 2014 to streamline and role the assets of CSN Houston into a Root Sports network. On Thursday, Jude Isgur's ruled that the new Root Network is a viable plan to resolve the bankruptcy case. The new partnership could go forward with creating Root Sports Houston as long as it didn't impede on Comcast's ability to appeal the case.
The Astros' representatives in court commented after the ruling:
"It's a great day for the fans," said Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe. "We will have broad coverage on AT&T, DirecTV and Comcast, and this will put us in position where we can continue implementing our plans with the teams.
"It's been very costly to the teams, but we're looking forward. We have broad coverage and media rights fees that will enable us to compete. We're not looking back. We're looking forward. It's been long and hard, but it's a positive day."
The only roadblock standing between Houston fans and watching Rockets basketball in November is Comcast's ability to appeal Thursday's ruling. Comcast has already filled it's appeal, questioning the restructuring plan and it's ability to resolve the network's debt. There is another road of court hearings on Friday, as the parties continue to hash out the restructuring plan. But, we are one step closer to seeing Houston sports across the city.