Pioneer Athletics caught in the middle of TV network distribution war

It seems like every year, this financial war dance seems to happen between cable content providers and their associated distribution networks. And, barring an eleventh hour miracle agreement, we will have another one begin to directly and adversely affect viewers starting Saturday night at midnight.

And cable continues to be the only consumer product that is purchased and 80-90% thrown away by the consumer.

Altitude TV is the major television partner and provider for DU athletics, covering men’s and women’s soccer, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, women’s gymnastics, and volleyball. Altitude is also the home network for the NHL Colorado Avalanche, NBA Denver Nuggets, MLS Colorado Rapids and NLL Colorado Mammoth and is currently in negotiations with Comcast/Xfinity, DISH Network and DIRECTV to keep its sports programming channel on those three major cable and satellite distribution platforms.

According to Colorado Hockey Now, “The “carriage” contracts between Altitude TV and Denver and surrounding’s big three cable providers – DISH Network, Comcast/Xfinity and DirecTV – are expiring and the two sides are…not anywhere close to an agreement to re-up with each other.

In the case of DISH, the contract has already expired and Altitude is NO LONGER AVAILABLE right now. At midnight Saturday (tonight), Altitude will vanish from both Comcast and DirecTV if there is no new agreement.

The three distribution platforms, in turn, are unhappy with the proposed price Altitude wishes to charge for its supplying its sports content, citing dropping TV viewership numbers, and is likely hoping for a lower package price from Altitude.

Many times these standoffs tend to get settled just before major pro sports seasons begin, so it is entirely possible, even probable to see the two sides come to an agreement at some point in September settlement, prior to the Avalanche’s season starting.

But the tone and language from all sides is contentious, to say the least. The DU sports most likely to be affected by dispute this are soccer and volleyball, which have more September telecasts scheduled, and thus, likely to be impacted the most.

It is time to make your voice heard if you want to watch University of Denver sports on TV, starting this fall. Especially if you rely on DISH Network, Comcast/Xfinity or DirecTV:

From Altitude:

Dear Altitude Viewer,

For the past 15 years, Altitude Sports has been the proud home network of your Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth and University of Denver, televising live games, while providing unprecedented behind the scenes coverage of the teams throughout the community. Although Denver-based DISH Network has carried Altitude since the inception of Altitude on September 4, 2004, at midnight on Wednesday, DISH plans to drop Altitude so that none of DISH’s subscribers will be able to watch Altitude programming. Comcast and DIRECTV are threatening to do the same this coming Saturday, after fifteen continuous years of carriage of Altitude. These actions by DISH, Comcast and DIRECTV are directly related to contract negotiations with Altitude, and while Altitude has always negotiated with them in good faith and continues to negotiate in good faith, these Big Three media conglomerates want to play by their own rules and are making unrealistic demands on Altitude. Their actions will affect hundreds of thousands of regional sports fans and negatively impact hundreds of local businesses that continue to support their home teams.

Why are these three cable and satellite giants coming together now after fifteen years to block viewers from watching their favorite local teams? In fact, Comcast and DIRECTV, which also own and operate their own regional sports networks that carry their local sports teams, have entered into agreements with regional sports networks throughout the United States, and even here in our very own region, on terms and conditions very similar to those that Altitude has been negotiating for.

The Big Three’s hardball tactics are dumbfounding and disrespectful to their sports-loving customers. Altitude has been an exemplary partner since its launch in 2004, producing and airing thousands of Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth and DU games. Altitude also telecasts invaluable and award-winning programming otherwise unavailable for colleges and high schools in our 10-state territory. Now the Big Three want to tune out their viewers and turn off our beloved teams and all other Altitude programming. This makes no sense.

We are asking that all sports fans in the region come together and call for an end to this terrible power play by these three domineering conglomerates. Join us in our fight for what’s right. If you are a subscriber to DISH Network, Comcast or DIRECTV, please contact them now before it’s too late.

Here is how you can help and make sure you don’t miss one second programming on Altitude Sports.

We are asking anyone who currently subscribes to DISH Network, Comcast or DIRECTV programming to please make your voices be heard by calling, emailing and using social media platforms to tell them – DON’T BLOCK MY ALTITUDE!