As we enter the last month of Astros’ baseball for the 2012 season, we also enter the final stretch of Astros’ baseball on Fox Sports Houston. It will be the first time in decades that the Stros won’t be on whatever incarnation Fox Sports took on, whether HSN or Prime Sports. As most fans know by now, the Astros and Houston Rockets have created their own sports channel via Comcast which should give the club more freedom, money and begin to move away from the Texas Rangers as they become bed mates in the AL West. The problem that I’ve noticed is that it looks like FSH has basically bid farewell to the Astros a month early. The TV schedule has a few non-televised games which includes all of the remaining Saturday games. A disappointing ending to a long and successful relationship.
I understand the Astros aren’t going to be drawing huge ratings as they finish off one the worst seasons we’ve all witnessed. Throw in the fact that college football season has begun and the Rangers being in the middle of another pennant chase, and part of me understands the thought process completely. Money talks and considering the circumstances, the Astros don’t fit the money making mold with record lows in attendance and bad ratings. Not sure if a Texas Tech football game, no offense Red Raiders, is going to draw much better rantings but establishing that relationship appears to be the higher priority. Also, with the Rangers becoming good, really good, over the last few years and signing a huge TV contract with Fox Sports, it makes sense to try and draw in some casual Astros’ fans who have abandoned the currently sinking ship. After all, this is still business and with the Astros and Rockets becoming the competition next year, Fox Sports going Bob Sugar toward the end shouldn’t be too surprising.
Saying all that, for diehard Astros’ fans it’s still a tough pill to swallow to not be able to watch our team. Being exclusively on cable should have it’s advantages and one of them is exclusivity to televise all games. That hasn’t happened and it’s even gotten worse as the season has gone on. Understanding that most of this was planned out before the season, Fox Sports understood what they had planned and basically gave the Astros a not so sweet going away present. I grew up during a period of time when fans didn’t get every game, in fact, cable wasn’t a requirement but a luxury for most. That created a divide where most fans got the opportunity to see the Astros on the road because those games were over-the-air broadcasts while home games were on premium cable and not so available. So while 2012 is almost over and in the grand scheme of things a few games missed here or there won’t make any big waves, I’ll miss them and I know a few Astros’ fans who will as well.
The move to Comcast should be a welcomed move and allow the Astros to expand their scope. If Comcast follows the templates set in other cities, the Astros’ telecasts next season will be better all the way around, from the HD quality to the connectivity with the fans. However, until then, I hoped for more out of Fox Sports and have yet to receive it.