There's never been a better time to be a fan of the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets. The two teams have young, talented rosters that should make each franchise playoff contenders for years. Too bad watching either team on TV has turned into a chore.
In late August, Altitude Sports, which is the Kroenke-owned sports network of the Avalanche, Nuggets and Rapids, was dropped by distributors DISH Network, Comcast and DirecTV as long running contracts expired.
There have been talks between the groups but no deal appears imminent. This means when the Colorado Avalanche open their season Thursday, you're not going to be able to watch it.
To catch the Avalanche on TV this season, you can view their games that air on the NBC Sports Network. That's where you can watch 12 of the team's 82 games.
There are smaller cable and satellite providers that continue to carry Altitude Sports, most notably CenturyLink Prism TV, which is available in the Pikes Peak area. These smaller companies, however, don't have a significant reach.
Comcast, DISH Network and DirecTV had a 15-year relationship with Altitude, so why is there a problem now? As you might expect, it comes down to money.
“This comes down to Altitude demanding payment on a guaranteed minimum number of customers,” said Andy LeCuyer, DISH senior vice president of programming, in a statement released by DISH. “We’re no longer going to support the broken regional sports TV business model that seeks to have the majority of pay-TV customers pay for the few who watch.”
Disputes between organizations on broadcast rights fees is a common occurrence between networks and distributors. These are referred to as carriage disputes, where networks and distributors disagree over the amount a distributor should pay for a network's programming. This situation takes place on a regional and national level.
In September, Disney threatened to pull ABC, ESPN and Disney Channel programming from DirectTV if their new deal wasn't more favorable. Earlier this year, a carriage dispute between DirecTV and the Nexstar Media Group kept Fox 21 off DirecTV for almost two months.
So what do these kind of renegotiations mean for Avalanche and Nuggets fans? Considering Comcast, DISH Network and DirecTV appear to be standing together, you may be better off seeing your favorite teams in person.
Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.