DENVER — Just days out from the start of the Avalanche season, and only a few weeks from the beginning of the Nuggets 2019 campaign, fans are still no closer to being able to watch their games.
The dispute between the TV network Altitude Sports and TV providers Comcast, Dish Network, and DirecTV is no closer to resolving, and it's looking likely that fans may miss games as a result.
Denver7 sat down with Matt Hutchings, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Kroenke Sports 7 Entertainment, which owns Altitude, to get the latest from the local level.
"You're not going to see the games unless they come to the table and do a fair deal with us," he said.
The dispute is over re-transmission fees. Networks like Altitude provide content, in their case Avalanche, Nuggets, Rapids, and Mammoth games along with local programming. Television providers like Comcast, Dish Network, and DirecTV then pay the network for the right to broadcast their channel and its contents as part of their TV packages.
According to Hutchings, Altitude came to the table for contract negotiations asking for a "moderate increase" from their previous contract. He says they were quickly rebuffed with offers that were "over 50% less" than the earlier years, "and in one case, 67% less."
While not providing their own numbers, in statements DirecTV said they "made a very fair offer" to Altitude, and Comcast stated their offer "reflects the value of its programming" and cited "low viewership" of the sports network. Hutchings denies those claims.
"We came out with what we thought were respectful offers for renewals," he said. "Unfortunately what's coming back is, 'Nope, here's our offer. Either take it or leave it.'"
Hutchings added that the Altitude and Kroenke teams are looking at all of their options. Denver7 then asked if a deal would be reached by the start of hockey or basketball season.
"Anything's possible but as it looks right now it's, I'm not optimistic," he said.
The other problem for fans of the Avs and Nuggets is that there are not many other options out there.
Altitude and the games will still be broadcast on CenturyLink and other smaller providers, but the network does not have its own streaming option for games.
League-wide networks like NBA League Pass and NHL Center Ice have a policy of blacking out games in local markets, meaning that won't work as a workaround either.
Altitude has put up billboards and launched dontblockmyaltitude.com to ask fans to make their voices heard to their TV providers. Hutchings added that both the NHL and NBA are aware of this situation, but wouldn't go further into what that means for the future of negotiations.