Some 15 years after it first televised the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers games on its own regional sports network in Philadelphia, Comcast has launched its 11th sports channel in a partnership with Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros and the National Basketball Association’s Rockets.
The 24-hour Houston channel went live 10/1 from Houston’s Pavilions entertainment-and-dining district.
Comcast reportedly owns about 20% of the new Houston channel and operates the network’s studios. The Astros and the Rockets are majority owners, with a combined 80% stake, reports The Philadelphia Enquirer.
Fox Sports previously televised Astros and Rockets games on Fox Sports Southwest, which was distributed to nine million pay-TV homes in Texas and surrounding states.
Meanwhile, Fox Sports Southwest has retained the TV rights to the Texas Rangers and the other Dallas pro teams. “Fox Sports Southwest is one of our strongest [regional sports networks] and it will continue to be without the Astros and Rockets,” Fox spokesman Chris Bellitti said in a statement. “We made a very substantial offer to keep the teams, but they have decided to go in a different direction.” He noted that the other pro teams televised on Fox Sports Southwest “are fully distributed in their TV territories” on the Fox channel.
Comcast’s goal now is to broaden distribution of the new channel to other cable-TV providers in the Houston area and to DirecTV and Dish Network before the first regular-season Rockets game on 10/31.