Nuggets’ virtual TV blackout is a big-time $hame | SummitDaily.com
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Nuggets’ virtual TV blackout is a big-time $hame

DEVON O'NEIL

For the first time in eons (OK, a decade or so), the Denver Nuggets are going into a season with expectations of more than simply making it to all of their games – on time and in uniform.Doesn’t matter whom you talk to, ‘Melo, Kenyon and crew are a team that could actually do something. Imagine that!I can’t wait to see it. But I’m going to have to. And if you don’t get your tube content from Dish Network or Adelphia, you will too.It’s a shame, really, the way the Nuggets’ virtual television blackout is shaping up. In a nutshell, Denver business mogul E. Stanley Kroenke, who owns the Nuggets and Avalanche, among other lesser-known sports franchises, has started his own TV channel. Kroenke formed the channel, under the name Altitude Sports and Entertainment, to be able to televise Denver’s teams on his terms. (The channel went on the air last month.)That meant taking away all games from Fox Sports Net, which had in years past been the No. 1 source for live coverage but whose contract with the Nuggets expired this year.

Kroenke wants Comcast – the primary cable provider of the Denver metro region as well as, among others, Summit County – to pick up the channel for the same amount Adelphia and Dish Network did and then offer it to subscribers along with the rest of its normal channels.Comcast, apparently unwilling to give in, continues to refuse the terms Kroenke is demanding.What does this all mean? Well, for starters, it means that if you want to see a Nuggets game as a Comcast subscriber here in Summit, you’re going to have to drive to Pepsi Center and pay big bucks.No couch, no chips and dip, no feet on the coffee table. Instead, it will be off to the land of $3 soda and $5 beer.Now we get to the best part: Kroenke, as an NHL owner, also is at least somewhat responsible for locking out the players and keeping the Avs off the ice. So in effect, the man who should want his teams to get as much visibility and coverage as possible is the one preventing that from happening (albeit on different levels in each case).As with any professional sports dispute, both sides in the Nuggets TV flap are claiming they’re right, and the other’s wrong.

“It’s Comcast’s decision to come to the table and do a deal, or tell their subscribers why they choose not to do a deal,” Altitude senior vice president of sales and marketing Tom Philand said Thursday. “We have an offer on the table that’s been proven to be equitable, the same one that Adelphia and Dish Network agreed to.”In case you’re wondering, Adelphia is the cable provider for the Colorado Springs area, and Dish Network serves various households in this state and nationwide. (So in theory a 90-year-old grandmother in Florida who subscribes to Dish Network strictly for the shopping channel would be able to watch the Nuggets play on TV, but Denver’s biggest fan would be left out in the cold if he didn’t want to pay for a ticket inside the arena.)Also of interest from my conversation with Philand – who gets paid by Kroenke – was his calling the NHL’s lockout a “delayed start.” Yeah, right.Philand then said he’s been getting hundreds of calls in the past few weeks from fans concerned they won’t be able to watch the Nuggets on TV – a team many have picked to be a top contender in the Western Conference this season.I thought that was funny, that a big company’s senior VP is taking customer service calls. He insisted it’s only because they care about their fans.

Curious upon hearing that, I asked him what he says to those who call.”I tell them that the single best thing they can do is call Comcast,” Philand said.Maybe he, or Kroenke himself even, should swallow some pride for a moment. If they really do care about their fans, maybe they should call Comcast themselves, and drop their price.If they don’t, Nuggets TV coverage in our area could be subject to a delayed start of its own – one none of us should expect to end anytime soon.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.


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