DENVER • The end of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment’s work to get its Colorado franchises in front of more local fans still appears to be beyond the horizon.
Josh Kroenke, while meeting with the media Friday at Ball Arena, discussed KSE’s continuing negotiation with Comcast, the state’s largest cable provider. The mediation has progressed into an active lawsuit, with many fans in their third year of being unable to watch the Nuggets, Avalanche, Rapids and Mammoth, all of which have enjoyed successful seasons since the blackout started. There is no end in sight.
“We want to make it available as broadly as possible to all of our fans, whatever distribution model that might be,” Kroenke said. “Comcast plays a significant role in that process, and once that is resolved, we will have more flexibility to offer Altitude programming to our fans. I can’t give a time frame on that, but we’re working very hard, and we’re equally as frustrated as our fan base.”
The Nuggets president claimed Comcast's offer is not sustainable from KSE's perspective, and added that the fact they’re still operating the regional sports network is a sign of their commitment to the community.
“Altitude has been a disaster the last several years, and we do not want to sign up for what’s being offered to us, because that would only make it an even bigger disaster,” Kroenke said. “It’s stayed on line because we care about our fans. We are funding that to a major loss right now, in the hope that we can figure this out and make it a sustainable model.”
Streaming is a popular potential solution. NESN, another regional network that broadcasts Red Sox and Bruins games in the Boston area, recently announced a $30 per month plan to stream those games without a cable subscription, but NESN is fully distributed by Comcast, which is not the case for Altitude.
Similar alternatives have been explored, but there’s still more work to be done.
“Streaming is a part of the solution,” Kroenke said. “We’ve engaged with several of the leaders in the industry, but we’re not quite there.”
Kroenke fought back against the idea that the fans’ frustration doesn’t reach the family. He said he’s heard about it in the grocery store and reiterated that it's frustrating to him on business and personal levels. The rapid changes in how many consume sports in the modern age further complicates the problem, but Kroenke committed to working toward a solution, as long as it may take.
“We’re trying to sift through these … changing models on the fly and understanding them from an economic sense that allows us to operate in a way that will be sustainable, because right now what’s being proposed to us simply does not work in any way, shape or form.
"If we signed up for it, it would involve us laying off a lot of employees,” Kroenke said.
“It’s not a problem that’s unique to Denver. I hear their frustration, and we’re working to try and resolve it as fast as we can.”