"The CSN Houston mess" is a pretty apt title for what's going on with the floundering RSN. Halfway into the second Rockets season on the network, there hasn't been any headway with increasing carriage of the network and improving its revenues. The narrative being spun in the media is that the Astros are greedy, Comcast is trying their best, and the Rockets are just innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. But John Royal of the Houston Press dove into some of the court documents related to the network's bankruptcy hearing, and that paints a far different picture of the Rockets.
Royal reveals that CSN Houston couldn't pay the Astros their media rights fee for May, and agreed to a $30 million, three installment loan with the Rockets and Comcast to take care of the Astros' rights payments for June, July, and August. The first two payments happened without a hitch, but the Rockets refused to pay the third installment of their part of the loan due in August, demanding an appraisal of the network. The Astros didn't get their agreed to rights fee in August.
Comcast offered to buy out the Astros' share of the network for $500 million, which would have freed them from the shackles of CSN Houston and allowed them to partner with a new provider for the 2014 season. The Rockets needed to sign off on the deal, but declined unless Comcast also paid them $500 million for their share. Comcast declined, and the deal to free the Astros fell apart. When bankruptcy became an option for the network, Comcast asked the Rockets to go into the filing as the lead creditor. The Rockets declined – unless they were paid $500 million. That proposal was obviously shot down by Comcast.
In summary, the Rockets didn't make a payment on an agreed-to loan while simultaneously trying to extort money out of Comcast. The media narrative has also played up the Rockets as the force trying to increase carriage for CSN Houston while the Astros simply reject every rights deal put in front of them, but in reality, the Astros have only been presented with one deal to approve – and it came last April. This whole situation is simply a complete disaster in every aspect imaginable.