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Altitude TV Exploring Streaming Pact With Amazon – Report

Jeff Baumgartner
9/9/2019

Altitude TV has stressed that it's not economical to create and launch its own direct-to-consumer OTT service as its impasse with AT&T, Dish Network and Comcast drags on, but the regional sports network apparently has not ruled out a distribution partnership with a giant of the streaming world.

Altitude TV, which has been dark since its deals with those three distributors recently expired, is sizing up Amazon as a potential partner, Jim Martin, president and CEO of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the holding company that owns Altitude TV, told The Denver Post.

But, for now, this is all just an idea being spawned in the media as Altitude continues to weigh its options amid the possibility that Comcast, Dish and AT&T and Altitude won't find common ground anytime soon. The Post said Altitude and its former pay-TV distribution partners are still "far apart" in their discussions, which include Altitude's proposal for an increase on rates while distributors want to put Altitude on a sports tier.

"We are exploring it," Martin told the paper regarding Altitude's interest in working with Amazon. "How viable it is and what their level of interest is, we don't know at this point, but we are interested in looking into that. We've had no direct conversations with them, but we have been looking internally about what the opportunity would be and we do intend to reach out to them."

Though there's been no direct outreach by Altitude to Amazon about this idea yet, it's clear that Amazon has an appetite for regional sports channels and in the streaming of live sports in general.

Last week, Amazon acquired a stake in The YES Network, the regional sports network that provides exclusive regional coverage of the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets, New York City FC and the New York Liberty. Amazon also has a pact to stream Thursday-night National Football League games.

Working with Amazon, rather than going into the OTT, direct-to-consumer business alone, could help Altitude TV clear some of the financial hurdles of developing and launching its own direct-to-consumer subscription service dedicated to the Nuggets and Avalanche, as well as coverage of the Colorado Mammoth (National Lacrosse League) and the Colorado Rapids (Major League Soccer).

Last week, the Stanley Kroenke-owned channel that delivers coverage of the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche in a ten-state area, stated clearly that the economics don't add up, as Altitude TV requires broad distribution to cover its costs and that the price it would be forced to charge under a direct-to-consumer model would be out of reach of many consumers.

Under the right terms, Altitude TV apparently believes that it might be able to pull this off when teamed with a partner that has a streaming and transaction platform already in place alongside the ability to regionalize the offering.

Altitude TV has also expressed interest in making headway with virtual MVPDs, a group that includes YouTube TV, fuboTV, Vidgo, PlayStation Vue and Hulu. Two services in that grouping -- Sling TV and DirecTV Now/AT&T TV Now -- aren't viable options at the moment for Altitude, as they are owned by two of the pay-TV providers (Dish and AT&T, respectively) that allowed their distribution deals with Altitude TV to lapse.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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