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Colorado Avalanche ask fans to fight for Altitude Sports Network

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Altitude is at risk of being dropped by major cable networks

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday afternoon, the Colorado Avalanche urged their fans to put pressure on three major cable distributors of Altitude Sports. The sports network that has broadcast Avalanche and Denver Nuggets games since 2004 is at risk of being dropped by when their contract runs out at the end of the week.

DISH Network, Comcast and DIRECTV are the three major carriers of the network and each is taking a hard-line approach when negotiating a new deal with Altitude. The Avalanche have asked fans to write letters to the distributors asking them not to drop Altitude Sports.

Altitude Sports and the Avalanche share a mutual owner in Kroenke Sports and Entertainment. The company’s CEO Jim Martin called the demands from the three cable networks “disappointing and a disservice to the community.”

In an impassioned plea to the fan base, KSE has released the following statement on the negotiations:

For the past 15 years, Altitude Sports has been the proud home network of your Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth and University of Denver, televising live games, while providing unprecedented behind the scenes coverage of the teams throughout the community. Although Denver-based DISH Network has carried Altitude since the inception of Altitude on September 4, 2004, at midnight on Wednesday, DISH plans to drop Altitude so that none of DISH’s subscribers will be able to watch Altitude programming. Comcast and DIRECTV are threatening to do the same this coming Saturday, after fifteen continuous years of carriage of Altitude. These actions by DISH, Comcast and DIRECTV are directly related to contract negotiations with Altitude, and while Altitude has always negotiated with them in good faith and continues to negotiate in good faith, these Big Three media conglomerates want to play by their own rules and are making unrealistic demands on Altitude. Their actions will affect hundreds of thousands of regional sports fans and negatively impact hundreds of local businesses that continue to support their home teams.

Why are these three cable and satellite giants coming together now after fifteen years to block viewers from watching their favorite local teams? In fact, Comcast and DIRECTV, which also own and operate their own regional sports networks that carry their local sports teams, have entered into agreements with regional sports networks throughout the United States, and even here in our very own region, on terms and conditions very similar to those that Altitude has been negotiating for.

The Big Three’s hardball tactics are dumbfounding and disrespectful to their sports-loving customers. Altitude has been an exemplary partner since its launch in 2004, producing and airing thousands of Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth and DU games. Altitude also telecasts invaluable and award-winning programming otherwise unavailable for colleges and high schools in our 10-state territory. Now the Big Three want to tune out their viewers and turn off our beloved teams and all other Altitude programming. This makes no sense.

We are asking that all sports fans in the region come together and call for an end to this terrible power play by these three domineering conglomerates. Join us in our fight for what’s right. If you are a subscriber to DISH Network, Comcast or DIRECTV, please contact them now before it’s too late.

Here is how you can help and make sure you don’t miss one second programming on Altitude Sports.

We are asking anyone who currently subscribes to DISH Network, Comcast or DIRECTV programming to please make your voices be heard by calling, emailing and using social media platforms to tell them - DON’T BLOCK MY ALTITUDE!

While KSE is obviously going to put the blame on the cable companies, the “big three” argue that viewership simply isn’t strong enough to warrant the kind of demands Altitude is making. Comcast Mountain West Region spokesperson Leslie Oliver said in a statement that Altitude has been asking for too much:

“We want to reach an agreement with Altitude, but it must be at a reasonable price for our customers. Altitude has demanded significant annual price increases for the same content for years, which has driven up costs for all of our customers in Colorado and Utah, even though most of them do not watch the channel. Over the past year, more than 95% of Altitude subscribers watched less than the equivalent of a game per week. The price increase Altitude is again demanding is unacceptable given the network’s low viewership. We have submitted a proposal to Altitude that we believe reflects the value of its programming and are hopeful Altitude will accept it so we can continue to carry the network for those customers who want to watch it.”

With only a few days remaining before the contract expires, the pressure is on for the two sides to come to an agreement. With great young rosters, this season is one of the most highly anticipated in a long time for both the Avalanche and the Nuggets. The loss of an Altitude broadcast could be devastating for fans in the Denver area. Altitude executives have said that they’ve looked into streaming option but don’t see it as financially sustainable.

This is a developing story and a lot could change quickly, but as of now, Avs fans are at legitimate risk of losing their regional broadcast for the upcoming season.

If you want to get in touch with your cable provider, the Avalanche have given out the contact information at DontBlockMyAvs.com.