So, I recently had the privilege to get a behind the scenes tour of the newest big thing in Houston, Comcast SportsNet Houston. For many years HSN, Prime, and then a few different incarnations of Fox Sports held our viewing interests, showing Astros and Houston Rockets games. Well, that is now a thing of the past as Jim Crane and Les Alexander, Rockets owner, have a new toy to play with, their own network. With it’s launch earlier this month, the Houston sports scene will take a dramatic turn for the better. I got the opportunity to view what should be coming and a close look at how everything should work.
The first thing I noticed was that it was still a work in progress, yet what is up and working is spectacular. The network will be based out of a two story office location at the Houston Pavilions, which is located in the center of downtown Houston. Think “The Today Show” with windows to the world as shows go on and people will get to see different personalities as they broadcast. As I was taken around their office, the one thing that stood out most was the hustle and bustle that took place. Everyone was trying to make this work, so emotions and tensions were running high. No worries, however, everyone treated your favorite staff writer very nicely, for that I thank them. The studio itself was breathtaking. We’ve gotten used to the dark and dreary studios that Fox Sports Houston incorporated but the new Comcast studios are bright and colorful. We now can see how the HD quality shows off the studio during it’s many shows.
One of the many aspects that caught my eye might be the most obvious, everything is so new. Even the smell within the office was like a new car just driven off the a lot. With that in mind, I expected the quality of the broadcast should be a major improvement over what Houston fans had gotten accustomed to experiencing. So far, the broadcast has been nothing short of fantastic with great quality and their new dedicated shows are a breath of fresh air. The Rockets’ broadcast seem revitalized, even with the issues that come along with a new beginning. The hope would be that by the time the Astros’ season rolls around, the kinks will be worked out and the broadcast will be even more fantastic than they’ve been so far for the Rockets.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Richard Bocchini, Comcast SportsNet Houston’s communications manager, a few weeks back and he laid most everything on the table. The station will be a Southwest based network with over 600 hours of Rockets/Astros programming and with current negotiations open for business with other providers, the goal is to make Fox Sports Southwest a Dallas thing and a distant memory in Houston. Complaints are valid, however, the lack of current exposure has quite a few fans annoyed and others more worried than upset. After speaking to Richard, I came away confident that something will get worked out, the only question is when, not if.
Much thanks to Richard and Comcast SportsNet Houston for giving me the opportunity to visit their studios and being able to get an up close view of their marvelous new facilities. I came away thinking that this move will eventually pay off for both franchises and be a major benefit for the Southwest region. Given the other Comcast channels I’ve had the ability to view, the Houston sports fan will be very happy, once everyone gets a chance to get a glimpse of our new sports channel.