DENVER (CBS4) – After two seasons of fans being unable to watch Nuggets and Avalanche games on Comcast and Dish, elected state leaders are working to create new legislation that would pressure Altitude Sports and Entertainment and the providers to make a deal. State Rep. Kyle Mullica said lawmakers and Colorado State Capitol attorneys are brainstorming options which could be written in to a bill in the next two weeks.
The idea of creating legislation comes after two years of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment dueling with Dish and Comcast. Tensions among fans, players, coaches and elected leaders boiled over after it was announced some Nuggets playoff games would not be aired locally on Dish and Comcast.
We gotta find a way to get our games everywhere
— Jamal Murray (@BeMore27) May 28, 2021
“We’ve got to find a way to get our games everywhere” Jamal Murray, star guard for the Denver Nuggets, wrote on Twitter.
Murray became the first Nuggets player to speak out against the blackouts. The Nuggets and Avalanche are both owned by the same company that operates Altitude.
The same night Murray expressed his frustrations head coach Michael Malone apologized to fans for the games being blacked out. He also joked that the games would air on the Oxygen Network.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock also sent an angry tweet about the issue as well saying “something has to give in this three year standoff.”
READ MORE: 'Nobody is Winning': Nuggets Fans, Players, Coaches And Denver Mayor Frustrated With Broadcasting Dispute
Searched everywhere fir the game! So unfair to fans, and the players that we can’t watch the @nuggets in game 3 of round one of @NBA playoffs! Something has to give in this three year standoff. #Showthedamngame
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) May 28, 2021
“We need to figure out something quickly,” Mullica said. “We’re fiercely looking for a solution.”
Because the companies are privately owned and operated Mullica admitted the lawmakers were limited in what actions they could take. He said experts in law are working to find an option which could pressure Comcast, Dish and Altitude to find a resolution quickly.
“Are there any levers we can pull? Are there any tools in the toolbox to see if we can do something about this?” Mullica said. “They’re private companies. But, these companies need to understand that the people of Colorado, and these fans, are the only reason they are around.”
Nuggets games have been blacked out lately because Altitude has reserved exclusive broadcasting rights for some games in the Colorado market. That means fans across the country are able to watch games being played in Denver, even as people sitting just blocks away from the stadium are banned from watching.
Altitude has the legal ability to strike deals with other channels to broadcast the games, however that has only happened a couple of times in two years.
“We want to make sure these games can be broadcast on TV in their local markets,” Mullica said. “This isn’t something we are trying to put a Band-Aid on, this is something we legitimately want to solve.”
Altitude recently filed a lawsuit against Comcast, making the challenge of getting a deal done much more difficult.
CBS4 reached out to Comcast for comment on the recent issues raised by fans, coaches, players and more. However, they declined to comment due to litigation.
In a written statement to CBS4, KSE said the following.
“We understand and share in the frustration of Nuggets fans who were unable to watch last night’s amazing Nuggets victory over the Portland Trail Blazers,” said Matt Hutchings, COO of KSE. “Comcast continues to hold Nuggets fans hostage, by not allowing them to follow their hometown team. With the start of the NBA Playoffs, we were hopeful that all Nuggets playoff games would be carried by either TNT or ESPN. That would have guaranteed full distribution for side-by-side broadcasts with Altitude within our local market. Unfortunately, last night’s Nuggets game was scheduled on NBATV. Under NBA broadcasting guidelines, those games are not made available in the local markets, except to the local regional sports network. We know that has left our fans frustrated, but we would ask that those same fans let Comcast hear how much they want to be able to follow their favorite team. To this point, Comcast has chosen to ignore both Altitude and Nuggets fans.”
Comcast issued this statement to CBS4:
“The ball is in Altitude’s court to figure out a way to broadcast the games to all the basketball fans in Denver. Unfortunately, Comcast isn’t in a position to make that call. Since September 2019, Comcast has not had a contract with Altitude that permits us to air the Altitude Sports Network. Since that time, instead of focusing energy on negotiating a mutually agreeable deal allowing Comcast customers to continue watching the Nuggets’ games, Altitude chose to file a meritless federal lawsuit, which is still ongoing – despite the judge dismissing most of the claims.”