Comcast and Denver-Area RSN Altitude Sports End Four Years of Litigation With No Carriage Deal
The two sides settle for undisclosed terms. Comcast still says it'll carry Altitude as a premium add-on
Comcast and Denver-area regional sports network Altitude Sports and Entertainment have settled their four-year-old federal court beef without a carriage deal to show for it.
“Comcast Corporation, Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, and Altitude Sports & Entertainment, LLC announce today that they have reached a settlement of their lawsuit pending in federal district court in Denver, Colorado,” read a joint statement released late last week.
“The parties will file shortly a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice of that suit. The terms of the settlement are confidential except that the parties acknowledge that the settlement does not involve the carriage of Altitude on Comcast’s cable systems. Comcast and Altitude remain willing to discuss potential future business and distribution arrangements.”
Also read: ‘Why Did Comcast Dump Us?’ Denver-Area RSN Altitude Launches Billboard Campaign as Xfinity Blackout Enters Year 4
The antitrust suit was filed in 2019 by Altitude, owned by billionaire Stan Kroenke and the RSN home of the NBA's Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Altitude claimed unfair business practices by Comcast after the cable operator wouldn't renew carriage of the channel in its base tier for what Altitude deeded a “moderate” licensing-fee increase demand.
Comcast controls 92% of cable TV homes in the pro teams’ TV market. Local area sports fans can gain access to Altitude via DirecTV and FuboTV. Since many of these fans probably get their internet through Comcast, they not getting the benefit of an efficiently bundled pay TV bill.
For its part, Comcast said it’s willing to make a deal that places Altitude as a premium add-on channel, just like, say, HBO.
“This much is clear — Kroenke Sports controls the teams, the arena and the Altitude network,” Comcast said in a statement. “The ball is in their court to do the right thing and make it available to their fans, regardless of their service provider. Comcast has been clear all along that we want to make the games available to the fans who want to watch them without making everyone else pay.”
Altitude reps have responded that their “indie” RSN is being singled out by Comcast, which demands baseline-tier carriage for its NBC Sports RSNs.
Sure, it’s another pain point amid the increasingly challenged RSN ecosystem, but Altitude certainly has relevant teams.
Notably, the Nuggets are No. 1 in the NBA’s Western Conference, with center Nikola Jokić closing in on his third consecutive league MVP. The Avalanche, meanwhile, are third overall in the NHL’s Western Conference and getting ready to defend their 2022 Stanley Cup championship. ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!