Astros, Rockets reach deal on new network

Astros, Rockets reach deal on new network

HOUSTON -- The Astros and the NBA's Houston Rockets announced Friday they had reached an agreement with cable network provider Comcast to launch a regional sports network that will begin airing Astros games in 2013 and Rockets games beginning with the 2012 preseason.

The Houston Chronicle reported Friday the teams, who have been television partners since 2003, will own slightly less than 80 percent of the new network, which will be called Comcast SportsNet Houston. The Astros are the latest in a growing line of Major League teams to launch their own network as they try to increase revenue.

Financial details were not disclosed.

"The Astros and Rockets look forward to continuing our partnership in our regional sports network, and we are excited to have Comcast join the group," the teams said in a joint statement released Friday. "Comcast's expertise in the management and delivery of sports coverage in networks across the country will bring many positives to the brands and presentations of our teams. Comcast SportsNet Houston will be an exciting way to view our local sports teams, starting with the Rockets' preseason games in 2012."

The teams, according to the Chronicle, informed FOX Sports Houston on Friday of their plans to terminate their agreement at the end of the 2011-12 NBA season and 2012 Major League Baseball season.

"FOX Sports Houston is a strong business today and will continue to be a strong business without the Astros and Rockets," the network said in a statement. "We have long-term agreements with local distributors, and we will continue to showcase the best MLB and NBA teams in Texas, as well as Big 12 football and original programming from the Houston Texans, University of Houston, and Rice University.

"We did everything possible to keep the Astros and Rockets, but they have decided to go in a different direction. Despite today's development, viewers should know FOX Sports Houston still holds both teams' local TV rights for two additional seasons."

Comcast, which became Houston's primary cable system in 2006, is the nation's largest cable provider. The company must negotiate carriage deals with other cable companies and satellite distributors, the Chronicle reported.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.