While the business of NBA is big, including massive television/media package that has escalated the NBA salary cap, the business of airing Preseason basketball games is not. This includes the Denver Nuggets who’s "company owned" television network, Altitude, made the decision some years ago to not air preseason games.
On a strictly financial note, it makes a bit of sense. Preseason games are ... well, Preseason games. They don’t drive money and the audience would be predictably small. I mean, who wants to pay to lug TV equipment to the often-times exotic NBA Preseason locations (last night the Nuggets were in Calgary) with an audience that is a fraction of what it would be in the regular season. If I was running Altitude I would have a hard time going there.
For the first time in their 49 year history the Denver Nuggets finished dead last in attendance. The very first time. That came amidst reports that Altitude’s viewership was one of the worst in the NBA. Interest, in general in the Nuggets was down league wide as the Nuggets were thoroughly ignored. By pretty much all "interest" measures the Nuggets couldn’t be in a worse position. Yet, there’s nowhere to go but up and the team needs to drum up some serious excitement.
Altitude is not run by the Nuggets, nor are they run by the Colorado Avalanche or Colorado Rapids. Altitude is a separate, independent subsidiary of Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE). I say this only because the lack of coverage of Nuggets Preseason games has nothing to do with whatever decisions the Nuggets would make in that regard. The decisions that are made about Nuggets, Avalanche and Rapids coverage resides completely within the purview of Jim Martin, the CEO of KSE. Ann Walton Kroenke owns the Nuggets and the Avalanche, Josh Kroenke is the team president and Governor of the same teams and sits on the board governing Arsenal in England. KSE is a separate organization that is run with it’s own rules.
I have sympathy for the challenges of the Denver market. Particularly when you are directly competing with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos rule the market and that can be a tough riddle to solve. How do you compete with a Super Bowl winning juggernaut? NFL is king, right? Yet as soon as people start hearing the words "cost efficiency" they start wondering if the bottom line is an overriding theme.
Consider this column a request ... no ... a plea for Altitude TV to change their approach to Denver Nuggets coverage. The Nuggets have a young, exciting team. Emphasis on young. The average NBA fan is young, millennial, and isn’t prone to looking for the game on your radio station. As great as Jason Kosmicki is (and I listen to him frequently when the Nuggets are on the road) your average, every day, NBA listener is more exposed to podcasts and online, at-your-fingers, audio. The youth of the NBA is a tremendous strength of future growth, However television still rules and the Nuggets are a falling behind because their coverage isn’t what it could be. What it SHOULD be.
Comment after comment. Angry direct twitter message after angry direct twitter message has flooded to me with increasing angst the last several seasons as there is a virtual blackout on Nuggets preseason coverage. Both for those of us who need to cover the team on a daily basis (Denver Stiffs and more) who don’t travel with the team, and for the fans who are attempting to become excited about their new, young team.
There is a disconnect. Where is it? As a young team is attempting, struggling, to regain interest after being in the depths. At a critical juncture when the team NEEDS all it can get in terms of exposure. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to look at twitter and see comments on a game you CAN’T see. What I wouldn’t have given to hear Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings calling the beginning of a new era of Nuggets basketball rather than having to rely on dodgy streams and second-hand video from opposing announcers.
If the Nuggets are going to step into the future, they need to cover all of the Nuggets games and build upon the newfound excitement. They need all the help they can get, and I’m sure Avalanche fans would say the same. Altitude needs to know that Nuggets fans LOVE the Nuggets and want to see the games. Let them know. Write them. Call them. Tell them that you WILL watch the Nuggets games in the preseason.
Tell them you’re excited about this team. I think they need to know you feel the love.
(here is a nifty pass from Juancho Hernangomez in the game we couldn’t see