Dispute between major cable networks and Altitude leads to blackout of Avs games in Denver TV market

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DENVER — A dispute between three big cable networks and Altitude has led to some Avalanche games not being shown in Colorado.

There is a contract battle between Altitude and three cable and satellite providers; COMCAST, DirecTV and Dish.

A message on the Altitude website reads:

“The Big Three’s hardball tactics are dumbfounding and disrespectful to their sports-loving customers. Altitude has been an exemplary partner since its launch in 2004, producing and airing thousands of Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth and DU games.”

When asked about the dispute, COMCAST responded to us with a statement in email:

“We are disappointed Altitude has chosen to pull its channel from our customers, and we now no longer have the rights to carry Altitude’s content. For years, Altitude has demanded significant annual price increases for the same content, which has driven up costs for all of our customers in Colorado and Utah. We have been negotiating in good faith with Altitude and want to reach an agreement with the network, but it must be at a reasonable price.”

DISH also responded to our request for a statement:

“This comes down to Altitude demanding payment on a guaranteed minimum number of customers,” said Andy LeCuyer, DISH senior vice president of Programming. “We’re no longer going to support the broken regional sports TV business model that seeks to have the majority of pay-TV customers pay for the few who watch.”

Some of the smaller cable providers, like CenturyLink Prism TV, Charter Communications and Cap Cable will still offer Altitude to broadcast the games.

NHL.TV will broadcast the games with a subscription but it has a policy on blacking out games in local markets.

The battle off-the-ice extends far past the remote control.

At bars like “The Hangover,” in West Denver, bartenders are already feeling the effects from customers.

“They come in to watch the screens,” says Bartender Shirlee Chavez.  “If it’s not there, than what’s the purpose?”

The Avs open play on Thursday night versus the Calgary Flames. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Pepsi Center.

If you don’t have a ticket to the game and you still want to watch the game, the Avalanche are hosting a viewing party outside of the Pepsi Center. They will put the game on the big screens. Fans are asked to bring their own folding chairs.

Colorado beat Calgary in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April, taking the series 4-1.

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