HEADLINES

There might be new hope for Nuggets and Avs games to get back on TV

Mar 7, 2024, 4:27 PM

Kevin Demoff’s first priority in his new role as boss at Kroenke Sports and Entertainment is to get the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets and Altitude back on TV in the Mile High City. It’s such a high-ranking issue for the promoted executive that he went straight to a meeting about the issue right after his introductory press conference.

Demoff will oversee the Avs, Nuggets, Colorado Rapids and Mammoth as well as Altitude TV, reporting straight to Josh Kroenke. The self-admitted non-TV executive, Demoff, says he’s mainly focused on providing a fresh perspective on the dispute with the network and Denver’s largest cable carrier Comcast. Altitude has been off air on Comcast since the summer of 2019, when the network’s contracts with that provider, as well as DISH Network and DirecTV, expired.

“I think the most important thing we can do with Altitude is give it a fresh perspective from our side, as we start to think through what the opportunities are,” Demoff said. “I haven’t been part of the dialogue I followed along like everybody else, but part of the structure you know, I think as we sit with Stan and Josh and try to understand is how do we merge what’s most important for the teams and along with our media business, and when you think about Altitude, it’s important to our teams to be on television. It’s important for our fans to be able to see these generational players we have. It is a complicated place if you look around the landscape for all of us, for everybody in this country from the RSN perspective, but I’m excited to walk in with a fresh perspective, I know it’s important to our fans to get these games on the air. I think that’s priority number one. For all of us. As we sit here today. We have amazing teams. We have amazing fan support, but this would be the one thing that if you put the top on the list that we need to dive into and the first meeting after this press conference is on this exact topic.”

Around the country, teams have found innovative and old-school solutions to the same issue KSE teams have faced in Denver for five years. Colorado’s other RSN, AT&T Sports Network Rocky Mountain collapsed, leaving the Rockies without a home and they’ll be streaming directly to consumers this year after it seemed Altitude may have passed up on the option to get the baseball club’s rights. The Rockies are one of many teams in pro sports whose broadcasting deals have fallen apart in recent years.

The Golden Knights, who were on the same network as the Rockies, play 69-of-82 regular season games this season on over-the-air traditional broadcasts available in local markets across the Great Basin. The team partnered with Scripps Sports, which owns local TV stations while at the same time, the team created— KnightTime+—a local streaming service for fans. The NHL team is one of countless teams that have had to adapt to a new broadcast model because of the changing industry.

The Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets are owned of course by KSE, which owns the network. Seemingly there would be a direct-to-consumer product or over-the-air solution to make the 2022 NHL champs and 2023 NBA champs available to watch. KSE brass said the fact they actually own their own RSN is causing complications in this situation and won’t allow the easy solution the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers have found by simply putting the games over the air for free.

“When you look around the landscape and you see what Phoenix has done, you’ve seen what Utah has done. You see a lot of these teams either creating a streaming product or an over-the-air product. You wonder why is it more difficult for us? And I think that’s the question to get to the bottom of now. One true answer was we own Altitude. It is our network and so it is far more complicated than watching an RSN that you had a contract with drop off. If you look at what’s happened with Sinclair or Diamond or Bally’s or any of those contracts, a lot of them it’s disappeared and people are going to try and figure out how you get on air. We are the RSN we are Altitude,” Demoff said. “So trying to understand the domino effect of everything that happens in our ecosystem, from outdoor sports group to the radio groups by making those changes. That’s what we’re trying to get to the bottom of and we are studying every possibility. It is possible that we could wind up doing a streaming product, it is possible that you can wind up doing something over the air. We are hopeful that we can try to find a deal with all the cable providers.

“I think when you talk about a fresh look, it’s exactly; are we doing everything we can to get these games on for fans? And are we trying to figure out what other people have done to solve this situation? Some that might be innocuous to us, some of them may be very different to us. But you know, again, there is no greater priority for this organization and for our fans than getting these games on the air. We have generational talents, championship teams. And not only is it for the fans now, I look at the seven-year-olds eight-year-olds to walk into this arena. They should be growing up rabid Nuggets, Avalanche fans, this should be the peak of their fandom. And so for us, it’s not just about who’s watching now, it’s about making sure we don’t lose that next generation of fans by not being on the air. And I think one of the goals of this process is when you focus on fan experience when you focus on the team when you merge that with the media. It is taking a more fan-centric approach to this conversation while marrying it with the business specifics that we need to look out for altitude.”

Last month the Gazette wrote a story about the dispute that quoted KSE brass —the first update in quite a while. The story came after Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon tweeted about the team’s TV situation during Saturday night’s NBA All-Star Game festivities. There was a Denver Post story on Tuesday about the dispute, with input from Suns fans about their new TV situation.

“There’s not a more painful issue in our entire web of companies than the Altitude issue. It’s been one that’s been festering for years,” Kroenke said. “And when I say painful, it’s I mean, I can’t escape it. There’s nothing that I would like more than to be out in the community, going to the grocery store picking up some eggs on him on a Tuesday morning and not being asked about the Altitude situation. Going up a ski lift not being asked about the Altitude situation. For me personally, I worked very hard with some great people for my entire 30s to build these teams to places that they’ve been. The Avs hadn’t been in a while and the Nuggets had never been before. So every time I hear that it’s like a knife in the heart to be frank. And so when Kevin and I sat down to talk about this new role and this new opportunity, the first and only thing we discussed was how to get Altitude back on the air for the majority of the Denver area. And you know, I think as Kevin said, to have his thoughts and have a fresh take around this is going to be be invaluable to me and our consumers and our customers all around the Denver metro areas and Nuggets fans worldwide. This is truly the issue that hits me to my core and I promise you it’s going to be something that we’re going to try a creative solution to in the very near future.”

Demoff admitted that he understands why fans are skeptical of a solution at this point and said he himself would be skeptical too if he were a fan. He knows, the people of Denver are tired of hearing talk and they just want to see their teams.

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