Denver’s Altitude Sports is going to battle with Comcast, alleging the cable giant wants to drive out the independently owned RSN and replace it with one of their own. Altitude is controlled by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, the same company that owns the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids (MLS) and the Los Angeles Rams.
In August, Altitude was blacked out on DirecTV, Comcast and DISH Network, leaving Denver sports fans unable to watch their local teams as the NHL and NBA seasons began. On Halloween, Altitude announced they reached an agreement to relaunch the network on AT&T’s DirecTV, but the network remains dark on Comcast and DISH.
Unable to reach a deal with Comcast, Altitude Sports is claiming the cable provider has negotiated unreasonably in hopes of eventually supplanting the independently owned network with one of their own RSNs. According to Altitude, Comcast has sought lower payouts and to remove the network from their basic cable package, but the cable provider does not impose similar terms on their own RSNs.
A majority of RSNs in the country are owned by either Comcast, AT&T or Sinclair Broadcasting Corp. Altitude is among the lesser amount of independently owned RSNs, such as MSG Networks and the New England Sports Network.
“During the same fifteen years of the relationship between Comcast and Altitude, Comcast has acquired independent RSNs all over the country in order to reduce competition for the licensing of sports programming,” the lawsuit states according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Comcast has also engaged in a series of large mergers and acquisitions that strengthen its control over multichannel television distribution in the Denver DMA and around the country.”
“Against this backdrop, in the past year, Comcast began making demands in negotiations with Altitude that Comcast knew made no economic sense and would drive Altitude out of business,” the lawsuit continued.” The demands represent dramatic cuts in rates to be paid to Altitude. Comcast’s proposals would also require subscribers that want to receive Altitude’s programming to pay even more to Comcast each month by moving Altitude from one of Comcast’s more widely distributed packages of channels to a package of television programming services for which the customer would have to pay an additional fee.”
Comcast responded to the allegations, calling them “meritless,” adding that they provided their customers with a credit, as seen in the Tweet below.
Earlier this month, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser began exploring why DirecTV and Comcast continued charging RSN fees after they stopped distribution of the Altitude Sports Network. Comcast ultimately gave customers a credit of $1.25, the amount they deemed the Altitude Sports Network to be worth to each monthly cable subscriber.
Andrew Whitworth: Being on Amazon Prime Video Keeps Me Connected to Football
“I just finished this incredibly long football career, but I feel like I’m 18 years old and I just got a fake ID and I can go to a club.”
After 16 seasons in the NFL, Andrew Whitworth is officially retired from playing the game, but he is still very much around the gridiron as a member of Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football studio broadcast team.
Whitworth is on-site at the games every week behind the desk as an analyst on TNF Tonight where he provides his insight and expertise regarding the action on the field. The four-time Pro Bowler is situated alongside Tony Gonzalez, Richard Sherman, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, along with host Charissa Thompson.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, Whitworth described how he is looking at the game of football in a different light now that he is retired. Within his remarks, he conveyed that he is not sure if he was necessarily a fan of the sport when he was playing, something he acknowledges is ludicrous to state but a legitimate question he has. Rather than viewing the game as a whole, he was more focused on his role as an offensive tackle and being able to effectuate scoring drives by stopping defenses.
“I just finished this incredibly long football career, but I feel like I’m 18 years old and I just got a fake ID and I can go to a club,” Whitworth said. “That’s how I feel watching football now – I just want to consume everything I can.”
Immediately after the final season of his career – which ended with a Super Bowl championship as a member of the Los Angeles Rams – Andrew Whitworth wanted to discover a way to remain involved in the sport. There were options, he shared, to stay within the Rams organization, along with opportunities to work with other teams. His mindset was focused on the art of storytelling though and how to promulgate and discuss a sport that granted him a successful career.
“Being in these stadiums, it keeps you so connected,” Whitworth said. “And every week it seems, I’ve got players asking me, ‘Hey man, you got any thoughts on my game? Things you could help me with?’ For my last five or six years in the NFL, I was kind of a coach-player, mentoring guys. Now, I’m getting to do that a little bit while also covering the games, which has been great.”
Andrew Whitworth outlined a typical week as a member of the Amazon Prime Video Thursday Night Football broadcast, which begins with a production meeting on Monday mornings and subsequent research and film study. In the afternoon he coaches a junior high basketball team for his son and then proceeds to coach his other son’s football team. The film study continues on Tuesday before traveling to the city where the game is taking place that night.
“As soon as I get to that city, I start putting together a tape to talk about and show the producers,” Whitworth said of his Wednesday routine. “We all get together, usually at the hotel, and spend [four to five] hours having dinner and talking about the game.”
Another production meeting takes place on Thursday morning before touring the city and finding enjoyable things to do throughout the day. The crew then arrives to the stadium to do the broadcast that night – in this case, a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, which begins with TNF Tonight at 7 PM ET.
ESPN, PFL Agree to New Multi-Year Rights Deal
“We’ve had five successful seasons on ESPN and we’re excited for the next phase of growth for MMA and the Professional Fighters League with this agreement.”
The new-look Professional Fighters League (PFL) won’t have to worry about its broadcast home. The combat sports league and ESPN recently agreed to a multi-year, multi-platform rights extension.
PFL’s new deal with ESPN includes live event distribution of the PFL regular season, playoffs, and world championships. ESPN+ PPV will also be home to PFL’s “Super Fight Division,” a new cross-discipline division that includes Francis Ngannou, Amanda Serrano, Clarissa Shields, Savannah Marshall, and Jake Paul, which was launched to “forge true economic partnerships with MMA’s top superstars to compete in global mega-events” according to PFL. The first PFL Super Fight PPV will take place sometime in early 2024.
“We’ve had five successful seasons on ESPN and we’re excited for the next phase of growth for MMA and the Professional Fighters League with this agreement,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “Our innovative sport-season format, elite roster of athletes, and the launch of the PFL PPV Super Fight Division, which will feature some of the world’s greatest combat sports stars such as Francis Ngannou and Jake Paul, are ushering in the new era of MMA as a mainstream global sports entertainment platform.”
This news comes hot off the heels of another PFL announcement — that the league acquired competitor Bellator from Paramount Global. The PFL roster now not only boasts top stars like Ngannou, Ante Delija, and Denis Goltsov, but also Bellator’s top stars like Ryan Bader, Cris Cyborg, Patricio Pitbull, and more.
Jeff Kotuby is a nationally-published journalist with bylines on many popular broadcasting and pop culture sites, including The Streamable, eBaum’s World, Twin Galaxies, and more. Jeff grew up in the shadows of New York City and cultivated his love for sports media with the classic broadcasting voices of the area, like Mike & The Mad Dog, Mike “Doc” Emerick, and Michael Kay. You can reach Jeff on Twitter @JeffKotu3y.
Scripps Sports Exec: Teams Are Making Contingency Deals For After Bally Sports Bankruptcy
Lawlor said that Scripps Sports “already has deals in place with at least a couple of teams as a contingency in case Bally halts broadcasts before the end of the 2024 season.”
With the writing on the wall that Diamond Sports Group will drop its regional sports contracts after next year, entities like Scripps Sports are bracing for additional opportunities to work with various teams.
Scripps Sports president Brian Lawlor recently said teams and leagues are already thinking ahead.
“There’s a lot of contingency planning by teams and leagues to have distribution options if the creditors pull the rug out early,” Lawlor told Cincinnati Business Courier. “It’s really messy right now.”
Lawlor added that Scripps has already been involved in contingency planning with those leagues and teams, with talks having gone on for months in some instances.
“(Scripps) already has deals in place with at least a couple of teams as a contingency in case Bally halts broadcasts before the end of the 2024 season.
Scripps Sports already stepped in to help provide a new TV home for both the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes. Lawlor said returns with those teams, particularly in Vegas, have been great.
“We’ve been blown away by the Golden Knights over-the-air ratings and the number of people who have subscribed to direct-to-consumer,” he said.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.