Denver Nuggets fans rejoice as Altitude, NBA lift blackout

Rocky of the Denver Nuggets turns the camera on the cameraman. A TV blackout was recently lifted as the league came to an agreement with KSE, Altitude TV. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Rocky of the Denver Nuggets turns the camera on the cameraman. A TV blackout was recently lifted as the league came to an agreement with KSE, Altitude TV. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /
Denver Nuggets TV blackout nightmare is over for local fans
Rocky of the Denver Nuggets turns the camera on the cameraman. A TV blackout was recently lifted as the league came to an agreement with KSE, Altitude TV and Comcast, Dish. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

Everybody knows that in this capitalist society, money makes the world go ’round, and that applies to our Denver Nuggets as well as all of their subsidiary businesses too. Whether you see that as positive or negative, it’s a reality over here in Western society.

But during the Denver Nuggets’ first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, it was definitely a negative for a lot of local fans in Denver.

In these days of illegal online streaming and various other avenues of finding sports games to watch on the device of your choice, the NBA’s blackout restrictions might not be as common knowledge to the average basketball fan as they once were.

While many live in pleasant ignorance of TV blackouts in the NBA, it’s still a harsh reality for a good portion of sports fans, especially those that are less inclined towards the more new-age media that is beginning to filter into pro sports broadcasting. They’re showing live games on YouTube and Amazon Prime these days for crying out loud!

As many fans already know, games being aired on the NBA TV network and not TNT or ESPN are subject to local blackouts. That means that if your team is playing a nationally televised game on NBA TV and you live in the general area where your team plays, the NBA TV feed will be blacked out in favor of your team’s local provider. In the case of the Denver Nuggets, that’s Altitude Sports.

Because of disputes between Altitude Sports—which is owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, who also own the Nuggets, Colorado Avalanches, and many other pro sports outfits in the area—and several large TV providers, most notably Comcast and Dish, local Nuggets fans in Denver were unable to watch Denver’s Game 3 matchup with the Blazers last week unless they were subscribing to DirecTV, which settled their dispute with Altitude in 2019.

The blackout was indeed in effect for Game 3, according to The Denver Post‘s Mike Singer, meaning Denver residents who had Comcast or Dish could not view the contest live through legal means. The Athletic‘s Nuggets beat writer Nick Kosmider pretty much hit the nail on the head with his tweet on the subject.

Altitude Sports had been dropped by Comcast, Dish, and DirecTV back in 2018, before they and DirecTV reconciled their differences and agreed to a new deal in late 2019, according to Denver 9News’ Darren Whitehead. Since then, Comcast and Dish customers living in Denver have been subject to regular blackouts whenever NBA TV gets a Nuggets game.

Something had to give.

And after media conglomerates with enormous revenue like Dish and Comcast (who are in the mix to buy off a large portion of AT&T’s regional sports networks, which would put them in an even stronger position against the smaller Altitude Sports) caused loyal fans to miss a darn playoff game, something indeed gave.

The sides agreed to a ceasefire just before last week’s Game 5, which would also have been blacked out if not for the 11th-hour agreement between KSE and the NBA to lift the league’s broadcast restrictions for the game. KSE in particular surely wanted to stop the bad PR after the firestorm they just went through across the pond with their disgraceful ‘Super League’ fiasco.

This latest episode between a smaller, independent network like Altitude and an ever-growing conglomerate like Comcast serves to underline just how grim the future looks for regional sports networks. This article from Awful Announcing does a great job of digging into this topic.

It’s getting tougher and tougher for independent regional sports networks like Altitude to survive and thrive when they’re not part of a larger distribution network like the local NBC-run affiliates. It’s tough for David to win when Goliath keeps buying and absorbing David before the fight starts.

That agreement in advance of Game 3 has, league sources told The Denver Post‘s Singer, resolved this issue for the remainder of the 2021 postseason.

KSE does intend to “continue having conversations with the league,” about addressing this issue more long term, KSE’s COO Matt Hutchings told Denver 9News. Thankfully for Hutchings and company, the Nuggets made it into the second round of the NBA playoffs, which will not feature any NBA TV broadcasts.

Beginning on Monday, the Denver Nuggets will take on the Phoenix Suns in a second-round series that promises to be an even more exciting duel than the one Denver (with an assist from Portland and Damian Lillard) gave its supporters in the first round.

Good thing Nuggets fans in Denver don’t have to worry about whether or not they can watch their team in the Western Conference semis, eh?

Next. Three Nuggets who earned a roster spot for next season. dark