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New Altitude TV executive Kevin Demoff on Comcast dispute: Streaming service, over-the-air are possibilities for Nuggets, Avs games

In his first public comments since inheriting oversight of the dispute between Altitude TV and Comcast, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment executive Kevin Demoff acknowledged streaming and over-the-air television as possible paths forward for local broadcasts of Nuggets and Avalanche games.

“We’re studying every possibility,” said Demoff, who was announced as KSE’s new president of team and media operations. “It’s possible that we could wind up doing a streaming product, and it’s possible we could wind up doing something over-the-air. It’s hopeful that we could try to find a deal with all the cable providers.”

Altitude, the Kroenke-owned regional sports network, settled a nearly four-year-old lawsuit with Comcast last March, but the two sides have remained at a contract impasse since then, keeping Nuggets and Avalanche games blacked out to subscribers in Colorado. Altitude filed the lawsuit against Comcast after its carriage deal lapsed in September 2019, accusing the cable giant of violating antitrust laws. Altitude is available in Colorado on DirecTV, Fubo TV and Charter.

Demoff is president of the Los Angeles Rams in addition to his new titles. He’s taking over responsibilities regarding Altitude after the recent resignation of Matt Hutchings, who oversaw the RSN as KSE’s chief operating officer and executive vice president.

“The first meeting after this press conference is on this exact topic,” Demoff said. “So I think that tells you exactly where we are.”

The ongoing contract dispute has coincided with widespread strife for regional sports networks and a revolution in live sports streaming. Other NBA franchises have pivoted away from RSNs. In the last year, the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz have established models that made games available via new streaming services as well as over-the-air local television.

“When you look around the landscape and you see what Phoenix has done, you see what Utah has done, you see a lot of these teams creating a streaming product or an over-the-air product. You wonder, why is it more difficult for us?” Demoff said Thursday. “And I think that’s the question to get to the bottom of. Now one true answer is: We own Altitude. It is our network. 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 (Sports Group) or Bally or any of those contracts, a lot of them, it’s disappeared and people are going to try to figure out how you get on air. We are the RSN. We are Altitude.”

In Denver, the RSN that broadcast Colorado Rockies games (AT&T Sportsnet) ceased operations last year, forcing Major League Baseball to take over the team’s broadcasts for the upcoming 2024 season. Rockies games will be available to stream on, but the franchise has yet to reveal a cable television option.

“There is no greater priority to this organization and for our fans than getting these games on the air,” Demoff said. “We have generational talents, championship teams. And not only is it for the fans now, but I look at the 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds who 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.

“For me personally, I worked very hard with some great people for my entire 30s to build these teams to places where the Avs hadn’t been in a while, and that the Nuggets had never been before. So every time I hear (local fans can’t watch games), it’s like a knife in the heart,” said Josh Kroenke, governor of the Avalanche and Nuggets. “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. … To have his thoughts and to have a fresh take around this is going to be invaluable to me and to our consumers and our customers all around the Denver metro area.”

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