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Could CSN Houston Give A La Carte a Boost?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2014) - Dish has joined DIRECTV in suggesting it would carry CSN Houston on a la carte basis, writes the Houston Chronicle.

The channel, which carries the Houston Rockets and the Houston Astros, has been unable to secure carriage deals with any major TV providers in the Houston market -- other than Comcast, which is a co-owner along with the two teams. Consequently, CSN Houston has had to declare bankruptcy and is now operating in Chapter 11.

DIRECTV charges the regional sports channel is asking for too money to carry its signal, but the satcaster has said it would consider offering it a la carte, which would allow customers to order it for a separate monthly fee.

That would enable DIRECTV to pay less to carry the channel because fewer subscribers would actually get it. In a basic package, the channel would be added whether the subscriber wants it or not, which means more customers would get it and DIRECTV would have to pay more to carry it. Fees are based on how many subscribers can watch the channel.

The Chronicle writes that James Moorhead, Dish's chief marketing officer, said in an interview that CSN Houston's fee demands remain "exorbitant."

"That is why we are proposing, and are willing, to do it a la carte," he added.

CSN Houston responds that n
o regional sports channel around the country has ever agreed to a la carte. But one could argue that the channel's financial situation puts it in a unique spot. CSN Houston is not only desperate for revenue -- as every relatively new RSN is -- but it needs to show the bankruptcy court that it's serious about boosting its finances. The channel has been around now for nearly two years and it still only has Comcast to show as a major distributor.

At some point, CSN Houston may have to take what it can get to stay in business.

And if it agreed to a la carte, it would be interesting to see if the pressure would rise on other regional sports channels to follow suit, such as SportsNet LA, which has been unable to land deals with major carriers in the LA market besides Time Warner Cable, which purchased the channel's broadcast rights from its owner, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at or at 703-505-3064.

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