I thought the whole point of owning your own regional sports network was to televise the games of your own teams. Did I miss something here?
Altitude Sports & Entertainment, the regional sports network owned by Nuggets-Avalanche-Rams-Rapids-and-Mammoth owner Stan Kroenke, was set up in 2004 to exclusively broadcast the games of the teams owned by Mr. Kroenke in the Denver market. Creating Altitude was a smart and shrewd business decision as it enabled Kroenke to keep all the advertising once collected during Nuggets and Avalanche games by Altitude's competitor - Fox Sports Rocky Mountain - for himself. And even though Altitude had some hiccups out of the gate getting carried on all the regional cable providers, it's become a staple for Nuggets fans with comprehensive programming for all things Nuggets.
Except for preseason games, apparently.
Not only was last Friday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers not aired on Altitude, but according to the Nuggets official site and Altitude's own programming schedule, none of the Nuggets eight preseason games will be aired on their own network. In fact, unless something changes by the time this column goes live, the only time you'll get to see the Nuggets in action before the regular season begins will be this Saturday when the Nuggets face off against the Los Angeles Lakers on NBATV.
I know it's only the preseason and the games are meaningless, but am I the only one who thinks not airing preseason games is a complete travesty and an insult to Nuggets fans? It's insulting enough to be asked to pay full fare for a preseason game ticket plus the parking pass (at increased prices over last season, no less).
Instead of watching your Nuggets play the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis on Tuesday night, Altitude viewers will be treated to Lutheran High School-Parker playing football against Lutheran High School-Denver. And rather than seeing Blake Griffin and the new-look Clippers in action on Thursday night against your Nuggets, Altitude viewers will be watching New Mexico State women's volleyball followed by some local golf tournament. At least local Lutherans and all those New Mexico State women's volleyball fans will be satisfied.
This has to be a cruel joke, right?
Figuring this has to be some sort of error on the programming guide, on Monday morning I emailed Jim Martin - the CEO of Altitude - and Shelly Harper - the Senior Vice President of Programming - and asked for an explanation as to why no Nuggets preseason games are scheduled to be televised. I'm yet to get a response. For the record, in my minimal correspondence with Martin and Harper in the past they've both been nothing but receptive and nice. But if it's true that Altitude will not be airing a single Nuggets preseason game, this is unacceptable and the blame needs to be assigned at the top of the network.
I could almost understand not airing a preseason home game hoping to entice people to actually buy tickets to the game. But to not air any of the Nuggets six road preseason games is unforgivable. If it's a cost issue (i.e. the cost of producing the broadcast compared to the ad revenue generated is too great), then the organization is being penny-wise, pound-foolish. How else shall the Nuggets engender enthusiasm for the upcoming season than by, you know, airing their own @#$%& games!!
Wondering what other NBA teams do for preseason games, I did some digging and it seems to be a mixed bag. Not surprisingly, every Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, Knicks and Rockets preseason game is televised on their respective regional sports networks. Even the notoriously cheap Clippers get most of their preseason games televised in Southern California. But smaller market teams, like our Nuggets, seem happy to give their fans the shaft. The San Antonio Spurs won't be airing any of their preseason games. Nor will the Milwaukee Bucks, the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Sacramento Kings. Other teams - like the Heat, Timberwolves, Cavaliers and Jazz - at least broadcast a few preseason games locally.
But just because other NBA teams don't do things the right way doesn't mean the Nuggets get a pass here for not broadcasting their preseason games. It's even worse for Nuggets fans, frankly, as Carmelo Anthony's remaining tenure in Denver may be counted in games rather than months. Shouldn't Nuggets fans get to watch #15 for as long as he's a Nugget? Maybe Altitude should fly me to Minnesota on Tuesday night, put me up in a Motel 6, hand me a microphone and a camcorder and I'll do the entire broadcast myself if that's what it takes for Nuggets fans to watch their own team.
Memo to the executives at Kroenke Sports and Altitude TV: it's 2010. Broadcast your preseason games. All of them.