At last there's progress in the high-stakes pissing match that's kept the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avs off your television for two months. Altitude TV, the broadcast home of the Nuggets, Avs, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth and more, has reached a deal with DIRECTV to again allow access to its programming.
Thus far, there's been no such pact announced with Comcast and DISH, the two other platforms that locked out Altitude in late August. But it's the first positive sign after weeks of stalemated negotiations.
"We're thrilled to be back on the air with our partners at DIRECTV," said Jim Martin, president and CEO of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Altitude's owner, in a statement distributed via Twitter. "This is tremendous news for the fans of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, who have had to endure missing their teams at the start of their seasons."
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No details of the pact have been released thus far, but an addendum to Martin's remarks seems designed to put pressure on Comcast and DISH to make moves of their own. It reads: "We encourage all fans and local business owners who do not currently have DIRECTV to make the switch, so they won't have to miss another minute of Denver Nuggets or Colorado Avalanche games."
Despite this progress, Altitude is still facing business headwinds. According to Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing professor and senior lecturer at Metropolitan State University of Denver, the regional-sports network model is broken, and that could portend more trouble down the line.
But Matt Hutchings, the president of Altitude Sports and KSE's chief operating officer, disagrees with that contention. In a recent Westword interview, he acknowledged that in today's post-streaming landscape, "things are changing, and the way viewers consume programming is changing. We're in a world of convergence. But we know that sports has always been and always will be an important product to consumers and fans on TV, in particular. I've said for a long time that sports is really the original reality program. It's a new script every night. It's the thrills and the passion and the ups and the downs that people love and what they want to watch. ... And we've got two teams in particular, the Nuggets and the Avs, that are two of the most highly anticipated teams in the country in their respective leagues. So, with all due respect to Mr. Duber-Smith, regional sports networks are changing and evolving, but they're still an important component of any channel lineup."
That's once again the case, at least on DIRECTV.