DENVER (CBS4) - Altitude TV decided to lift the blackout for Tuesday night's Game 5 between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers. The dispute between Altitude Sports & Entertainment, Dish and Comcast, which has lasted for the last two seasons, has kept fans from being able to watch Nuggets and Avalanche games on Comcast and Dish.
Tuesday night's game can be watched on NBA TV, which is a subscription service.
The third game of the series was blacked out last week for Comcast users. Game 4 on Thursday was contractually given to Altitude. Because Altitude held exclusive broadcasting rights in Colorado, fans were unable to watch the game unless they subscribed to DirecTV.
Nuggets games have been blacked out lately because Altitude has reserved exclusive broadcasting rights for some games in the Colorado market. That means fans across the country are able to watch games being played in Denver, even as people sitting just blocks away from the stadium are banned from watching.
Altitude has the legal ability to strike deals with other channels to broadcast the games.
Kroenke Sports Entertainment didn't commit to anything beyond Tuesday night's game.
"Is it a ray of hope? I think it's exciting that they'll be able to watch they game tonight. I don't want to speculate on anything but on what we do know, this is our priority that the fans can watch the games and that's been the focus since day one," said Matt Hutchings, COO of KS&E.
Last week, Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and multiple state lawmakers joined other Coloradans, including Denver Nuggets players and head coach Michael Malone, in the outcry.
"Are there any levers we can pull? Are there any tools in the toolbox to see if we can do something about this?" Rep. Kyle Mullica said. "They're private companies. But, these companies need to understand that the people of Colorado, and these fans, are the only reason they are around."
State leaders are working to create new legislation that would pressure the groups to make a deal.
Altitude recently filed a lawsuit against Comcast, making the challenge of getting a deal done much more difficult.
In a written statement to CBS4, KSE said the following.
"We understand and share in the frustration of Nuggets fans who were unable to watch last night's amazing Nuggets victory over the Portland Trail Blazers," said Matt Hutchings, COO of KSE. "Comcast continues to hold Nuggets fans hostage, by not allowing them to follow their hometown team. With the start of the NBA Playoffs, we were hopeful that all Nuggets playoff games would be carried by either TNT or ESPN. That would have guaranteed full distribution for side-by-side broadcasts with Altitude within our local market. Unfortunately, last night's Nuggets game was scheduled on NBATV. Under NBA broadcasting guidelines, those games are not made available in the local markets, except to the local regional sports network. We know that has left our fans frustrated, but we would ask that those same fans let Comcast hear how much they want to be able to follow their favorite team. To this point, Comcast has chosen to ignore both Altitude and Nuggets fans."
Comcast issued this statement to CBS4:
"The ball is in Altitude's court to figure out a way to broadcast the games to all the basketball fans in Denver. Unfortunately, Comcast isn't in a position to make that call. Since September 2019, Comcast has not had a contract with Altitude that permits us to air the Altitude Sports Network. Since that time, instead of focusing energy on negotiating a mutually agreeable deal allowing Comcast customers to continue watching the Nuggets' games, Altitude chose to file a meritless federal lawsuit, which is still ongoing – despite the judge dismissing most of the claims."
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