Providers offered chance to air free Astros games

BOSTON -- Comcast SportsNet Houston, a partnership between the Astros, NBA's Houston Rockets and the NBC Sports Group, announced Thursday they are offering an unprecedented program to provide the new network -- free of charge -- to satellite, cable and telco providers across a five-state region.

The 37-day free trial, which has been presented to DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, DISH, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable and more throughout the network's five-state region, is set to begin immediately and extend through May 31. The Astros will play 34 games in that span.

"We are pleased that CSN Houston is offering its service free of charge to television providers across the five-state region," Astros president and CEO George Postolos said in a statement. "The Astros want to be on television in every household. This offers at least a temporary fix as CSN Houston and the providers work towards a permanent agreement. We hope the providers agree to CSN's offer."

These Astros telecasts are in addition to CSN Houston's coverage of the Rockets playoff run and Dynamo regular-season games.

"We understand that fans have been frustrated as we work through our negotiations with providers and have already collected more than 100,000 petitions for our network," CSN Houston president & general manager Matt Hutchings said in a statement. "While those negotiations must continue, our leadership team feels that this next stretch of games for the Rockets, Astros and Dynamo should be made available to the fans. This free trial comes with a sizable loss that our network will take on, but we feel that it is the right thing to do. We are hopeful that our affiliate partners at DirecTV, AT&T, Dish, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable and others across our region will take us up on this unprecedented offer and make it available to their customers."

For more information on CSN Houston's free trial, fans can contact their provider in order to find out if CSN Houston's coverage of the Rockets, Astros and Dynamo will be placed on their channel lineup during this limited time.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.