OPINION: The Altitude TV Dilemma

By Yoni Manor

Colorado sports fans have been suffering. Without a local sports channel to broadcast their favorite teams’ games for over a year and a half, many Coloradans have missed out on historic sports moments. Altitude TV, the broadcasting home of the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rapids, disappeared off of most major cable providers in August of 2019, with many Coloradans confused and frustrated. Many didn’t understand why their local sports channel was gone, but as with most things, the reason is money.

Comcast, DISH and Direct TV all stopped carrying the channel after they failed to negotiate a new licensing deal with the regional television network. When Comcast’s contract with Altitude expired, instead of renewing their old contract, Comcast insisted that Altitude move to a “sports tier” on the cable dial and make its subscribers pay an additional fee to access their channel. Altitude refused to accept these terms, as it would mean their channel would be accessible to fewer Coloradan Comcast customers, meaning less money for them. Since then, Altitude has filed a lawsuit against Comcast for refusing to make a good offer to license Altitude so that Comcast can drive the regional sports network out of business and capture the programming for its own NBC-branded sports channel. 

DISH has also been accused of doing the same, only offering Altitude the choice to force DISH customers to pay extra for their channel. Meanwhile, Direct TV was able to agree to a deal several months ago, which leaves Comcast and DISH customers in the muck and without much hope moving forward. To compensate, many Nuggets and Avs fans, like myself, have been forced to use illegal and sketchy streaming websites to watch our teams play. This puts many people at risk of acquiring viruses onto their computers or smartphones just to watch their favorite sports, while still having to pay for cable.

Unfortunately, this is just one example of a disturbing trend of corporate national media monopolies consolidating local media companies for profit at the expense of sports fans. DISH and Comcast have ensured their customers that they have offered fair deals to Altitude, acting as if they are the innocent party, but in reality, they are the greedy perpetrators.

Altitude should be a regular channel just like it is for all other local NBC and FOX sports networks. The TV channel has been apart of Denver’s vibrant sports culture for decades and is here to stay. As we wait to see the results of their battle in the courts, Colorado sports fans will continue to suffer through the stalemate. Altitude stands as one of the few local sports channels in America, as they are becoming extinct at the hands of national broadcasting channels. 

Your current options are to either drop Comcast or DISH for Direct TV, stream games illegally for free, or sign up for AT&T TV Now, a streaming service that offers Altitude TV along with many other channels.