Houston Astros fans can be relieved Xfinity won’t pull plug on late games

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros had a tech issue that was isolated to Comcast customers two weeks ago, shutting fans out of a late game when the telecast disappeared.

The Houston Astros are slowly slipping into an abyss that they don’t want to be in as they’ve dropped their fourth straight at the hands of the surging Oakland Athletics.  We know the A’s are far from a pushover and Billy Beane is going to ensure that they get the most out of their roster with minimal costs upfront.

Ultimately, as it usually does, the AL West is going to come down to one of these two teams and let’s hope that the Houston Astros are the one to rise as the victor.  With all the challenges this team has faced with the void in veteran pitching talent plus the lack of consistent hitting over this stretch, it clearly obvious as to why this team is currently on a skid.

But they’ll turn things around as they stare at a 6-8 record and hopefully find their way back to the leaderboard once again.

But anyway, do you all remember two Fridays ago when the Houston Astros took on the Los Angeles Angels and the telecast went poof after midnight?

If you were a Comcast customer like I am, you probably experienced this but if you were on any other cable network or streaming online, you likely saw no interruption of the feed.  Although it appeared the Houston Astros were cruising to a 9-6 win, the last 30 minutes I had to listen to the incredible radio duo of Robert Ford and Steve Sparks to close things out.

Kyle Tucker was having himself a game while George Springer turned in a solid performance and the emergence of Andre Scrubb was about to be embarked upon, so too bad I didn’t get to see it but it’s all good.

This occurred on Comcast’s alternate AT&T SportsNet channel (No. 710) as the Houston Rockets had top bidding on the mainline channel (No. 639) as they were opening up the restart of the 2019-20 season against the Dallas Mavericks, which turned out to be a hell of a game that went into overtime with the Rox winning 153-149.

But after the Rockets’ postgame programming was over, typically in past sports networks these teams have been on, they’ll switch the active telecast back to the mainline channel.  That’s what I thought had happened at first but I was staring at the exceptionally talented Cayleigh Griffin host another edition of Rockets All-Access.  Although I wanted to continue watching, I had bigger fish to fry to watch the end of that game.

I couldn’t fathom what could be going on so I took to Twitter on our House of Houston account to get a feel of what’s going on and there were many fans like myself frustrated by the gap in programming.

What was going on?

I checked with Houston Chronicle reporter David Barron’s twitter feed — you know he’s go-to in regard sports network media ratings/issues/contracts — and he suspected it was a Comcast issue because those on AT&T could still watch the game.

Barron did some further digging and found out that the timer that Comcast uses to determine how long to keep programming wasn’t enough for the four hours, 21-minute contest which was the longest in history at Angels Stadium of Anaheim.  Typically a half-hour buffer is added but it wasn’t enough for this game.

Comcast will add an extra hour buffer just in case so this doesn’t happen again.  Since typically no

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other programs are aired on the alternate channel, this had to be done and thus it wouldn’t be an issue on the mainline channel because there’s always something airing, whether it be fishing tournaments, infomercials, etc. so it wouldn’t be much of an issue.

Because of a smorgasbord of restrictions, I’m sure it’s a lot tougher to switch channels than it was back in the day so this was the quickest solution more than likely that the media monolith could up with.

With the majority of the opponents in this 60-game schedule being against teams on the West Coast, including their own division, there are going to be late games with expanded rosters and exponential pitching changes for strategy purposes.

It’s best they correct this concern now so it won’t rear its ugly head in the future.

Next. Astros: Four reasons not to sleep on this team. dark

And besides, we’re watching in droves since we can’t get to the ballpark.  Despite the pandemic causing challenges economically and physically, the Houston Astros averaged a 5.94 Nielsen rating through the first six games, putting that figure up 97 percent through a similar amount of games back in 2019.

Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again — go Houston Astros.