As of Saturday morning, Colorado Avalanche regional rights holder Altitude Sports Network is no longer available to customers of Comcast, DirectTV and Dish Network. The Kroenke Sports and Entertainment owned Altitude has been dropped from the three major cable distributors due to contentious negotiations over a new partnership contract.
As of Sunday morning, DIRECTV customers received the following message when tuning into Altitude:
“Altitude unfortunately forced AT&T to take this channel down. AT&T made a fair offer to keep the channel up, but Altitude rejected it. Customers have made clear they want more choice over the channels they pay to receive in their home.”
Altitude is the exclusive rights holder for the regional broadcast of the Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids and University of Denver as well as others. The Avalanche open its preseason September 17 with the regular season starting two weeks later on October 3. The Nuggets open their preseason October 8. If a new contract is not agreed upon over the next two weeks, fans in the home region will be unable to watch Avalanche games.
This isn’t the first time a major cable distributor has had issues sustaining a relationship with networks like Altitude. Back in July, Fox Regional Sports Networks went dark on Dish - and have yet to come back.
Both sides are still working on an amicable resolution to the situation, but at the moment the two sides seem to have a fundamental difference of opinion. As a result, sports fans in Colorado, Utah, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming have been left out in the cold.
Kenny Miller, the executive vice president of Altitude says he’s not “confident” but that he’s “hopeful” a deal will be reached before the Avalanche and Nuggets seasons get underway.
This uncertainty about the team’s broadcast is a huge blow to Avalanche fans. A surprising playoff run in the spring combined with some major roster movements in the summer has resulted in the upcoming season being one of the most anticipated in a long time. Hopefully everything is resolved before the preseason gets underway but as of now, there will be no way for fans in the Denver market to watch Avalanche preseason games (by legal means).
At the end of the day, these negotiations are a reflection of a changing landscape for sports broadcasts and television as a whole. With streaming options such as DAZN, YouTube, Amazon, etc. buying sports broadcasts rights, the traditional model has become unsustainable for both distributors and regional networks. More and more, sports fans are able to cut the cord and watch their favorite teams through new media. As a result, major concessions must be made on both sides of these Altitude negotiations in order to for the business to make economic sense.
KSE has looked into a streaming option but have concluded that the market isn’t big enough to sustain a viable stream-only business model.
If you want to get in touch with your cable provider, the Avalanche have encouraged fans to reach out and have given out the contact information at DontBlockMyAvs.com.