Altitude launches new campaign amidst ongoing blackout of Avalanche and Nuggets games
The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche will open the new season Wednesday night, and there's still no deal to get the team's games back on Comcast. On Tuesday, Altitude Sports announced it had recently made a new offer to the carrier and would be launching a new media blitz to stir up public support.
The ongoing dispute between Comcast and Altitude Sports began in 2019 when a deal between the two entities ended. As a result, all Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets games have been blacked out for Comcast customers, which make up about 92 percent of cable subscribers in the market, Altitude has stated in court documents.
In the ongoing negotiations, Altitude asked Comcast for a "moderate consumer price index increase." Comcast has said doing so will raise fees for nearly all customers, while only a small number watch Altitude.
The regional sports network has since filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Comcast, and the two sides have taken part in unsuccessful mediation sessions.
"Comcast wants to make an example out of Colorado's independent regional sports network, Altitude Sports," said Matt Hutchings, President and CEO of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment Media Ventures, which owns and operates Altitude Sports.
On Tuesday, Hutchings said the network asked Comcast in July for the same deal it gave AT&T Sportsnet Rocky Mountain, the home of the Colorado Rockies.
73 days later he said the company still hasn't responded to the offer, so Altitude is launching an aggressive billboard and media campaign.
"It's going to remind our fans that we're doing everything we can for them to get Altitude back on Comcast and to remind Comcast of the offer that we made and that we're willing to step to the table and get the deal done," Hutchings said.
"There's no reason we shouldn't be treated the same way that they treat regional networks across the country, including AT&T Sportsnet Rocky Mountain."
In a statement to CBS News Colorado, Comcast said there's been no new proposal from Altitude since the last mediation in July, and the cable company remains willing to make the games available to the fans who want to watch them.
"Altitude's position requires nearly every Comcast customer in the Denver area to pay a fee increase for Comcast to broadcast the Altitude channel on TV, regardless of whether they watch the channel," said Leslie Oliver, a Comcast spokeswoman. "We have been and remain willing to distribute Altitude's content in a way that avoids raising rates for virtually all our customers."
Darrin Duber-Smith, a senior lecturer with Metropolitan State University of Denver's School of Business, has been following the saga closely and said while both sides are forgetting the fans, Altitude and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment will ultimately pay.
"I think that they're tripping over dollars to pick up nickels in this whole deal," Duber-Smith said. "Kroenke needs to be looking at the bigger picture of, 'how do I get new fans?'"
He said the ongoing dispute is part of a bigger problem seen across the country, where regional sports networks and cable providers continue to square off amidst a rapidly changing media landscape.
"The whole model of sports television is broken right now," he said. "You're at a point where something has to give, and I think the Avalanche and Comcast are on the front lines of this much larger conflict."
Altitude currently has deals with DirecTV and Evoca TV. It also recently announced a new carriage deal with FuboTV, a sports and TV streaming service, with the base plan costing $69.99 per month.
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