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Sports TV News

Altitude TV Off Dish, DirecTV and Comcast

“Denver sports fans are already unable to watch the Rapids, but it won’t be long before the dispute bleeds into the NHL regular season which opens October 3rd.”

Brandon Contes

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With the NHL and NBA seasons nearing, Denver sports fans might have trouble watching local games as their broadcast network, Altitude TV is in a contract dispute with cable providers.  After a 15 year partnership, Altitude TV is currently unavailable to consumers on DISH Network, DIRECTV, and Comcast.

The Kroenke owned regional sports network is the television home of the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rapids of the MLS, which is currently in season.  Denver sports fans are already unable to watch the Rapids, but it won’t be long before the dispute bleeds into the NHL regular season which opens October 3rd.  

As of Sunday, DIRECTV customers who tried to watch Altitude TV received the following message, “Altitude unfortunately forced AT&T to take this channel down. AT&T made a fair offer to keep the channel up, but Altitude rejected it. Customers have made clear they want more choice over the channels they pay to receive in their home.” 

According to the Denver Post, Executive Vice President of Altitude TV, Kenny Miller wouldn’t categorize his expectation of reaching a new deal soon as “confident,” but he is hopeful the sides can reach an agreement to get the network back on-air before the Avalanche and Nuggets seasons begin.  

“I don’t know if it’s confident, it’s hopeful,” Kenny Miller EVP of Altitude said of the possibility of reaching a deal before the respective season openers. “I keep going back to the fact that they’re regional sports network owners and they know what production costs and rights fees and everything that goes into a regional sports network and what makes business viable. A 50 percent cut in rates and going to 20 percent of the subscriber base is not a viable business. You would hope that there is a reasonable deal. Fair is not putting a company out of business.”

The dispute is part of viewers changing the way they consume television.  As sports continue to grow in popularity, their rights and licensing fees increase for networks, at the same time streaming services entice cord cutters to move away from traditional cable providers.  

It’s rare that disputes don’t get resolved in time for the start of a professional sports season, but it has happened.  In 2016 Comcast customers went the entire Major League Baseball season without reaching a new agreement with the YES Network, keeping Yankees games dark for the year.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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Sports TV News

Chris Fallica Leaving ESPN for FOX

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Jordan Bondurant

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A prominent sports betting voice featured on ESPN’s College GameDay will be heading to rival FOX and their Big Noon Kickoff show starting in 2023. According to Awful Announcing, Chris Fallica, affectionately known as “The Bear”, will make his last appearance on GameDay will be this weekend.

Fallica has been with ESPN since 1995. Since 2013, Fallica had been featured on GameDay making betting picks with his patented “Bear’s Board”.

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Fallica joins Tom Rinaldi as the second former GameDay voice to jump over to FOX and be featured on Big Noon Kickoff.

Both shows have experienced incredible viewership growth this season. For GameDay, there have been several weeks this season that have seen some of the largest audiences in the show’s history.

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Sports TV News

Tim Brando Believes Executives Look For Familiarity, Not Great Voices For Announcers

“Executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio. As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tim Brando has seen the broadcasting industry has evolved in a lot of ways through the years, but one thing that’s remained constant is how infrequently some of the announcing gigs with major networks open up to younger voices.

That’s mainly because you have veteran talent already occupying those positions with no plans for the immediate future to step aside.

On a recent edition of The Sports Talkers Podcast, FOX Sports broadcaster and host Tim Brando spoke to Stephen Strom about the reality that many broadcasters face.

“Yeah there are a lot more jobs, but there are fewer great jobs,” Brando said. “A lot of guys are getting jobs, but it’s like a dead end.”

But in terms of hiring younger talent for network jobs, he thinks it’s become more about adding faces to broadcast booths rather than voices.

“There’s a tendency I think now in our business to hire more visible and perhaps more popular talent because they’ve been in the studio,” he said. “But they’re not ready to be in the booth. Not everybody can do both well.”

Tim added that there’s a nuance to calling play-by-play versus working studio coverage. Brando said that perhaps it has a lot more to do with young broadcasters bypassing getting their start in radio and going right into TV.

“It seems to me that in some circles anyway in our business, executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio,” he said. “As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Brando did mention some of the younger voices at FOX who have risen to the bigger opportunities in the booth, and how they ultimately worked their way up. He said he’s had the chance to offer advice to a few of them and act as a mentor in a way, because that’s how it was for him breaking into the industry.

“I believe in pouring into the young broadcasters out there, I really do,” he said. “Because Curt Gowdy poured into me. I think there’s a responsibility and a level of accountability for the generation before to help those that are coming up that you really respect.”

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Sports TV News

MLB Network Airing 38 Hours of Winter Meetings Coverage

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jordan Bondurant

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The annual winter meetings for MLB are set to take place in-person for the first time since 2019 next week, and MLB Network is ready to bring viewers all the coverage possible from San Diego.

The network is devoting 38 hours of live programming on-site, with shows like MLB Tonight, Hot Stove, High Heat, MLB Now and Intentional Talk emanating from the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fans tuning in to MLB Network can expect to see Greg Amsinger, Fran Charles, Brian Kenny, Stephen Nelson, Alanna Rizzo, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Lauren Shehadi and Matt Vasgersian hosting their respective shows throughout the week. Sean Casey, Mark DeRosa, Al Leiter, Cameron Maybin, Kevin Millar, Dan O’Dowd, Steve Phillips and Harold Reynolds will contribute coverage as analysts.

MLB Network will also carry coverage of the inaugural draft lottery from the winter meetings on Tuesday, December 6 at 8:30 p.m.

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