In case beleaguered Avalanche and Nuggets fans who have Comcast as their primary cable provider didn’t already know, there has been no progress toward getting the games back on again. In fact, it could be a very long time before we even get a judge or jury’s opinion that could settle the nasty stalemate between the two parties that has existed in late August.
According to a recent report on the legal/media website lightreading.com, it could be until May of 2021 – not this coming May, but next May – before this thing even gets its first pretrial conference. As reporter Jeff Baumgartner wrote:
“Per the current scheduling order, the fact discovery cut-off will be Oct. 21, 2020, with expert discovery cut-off set for Jan. 19, 2021. If it goes so far, a pretrial conference in this case would be held the morning of May 3, 2021. Altitude told the court that it expects a jury trial to require 12 trial days, plus more days for jury selection, while Comcast sees it requiring no more than five trial days.”
Good lord. I mean, we all know the legal process is slow, but…
Also from the report:
“Altitude TV likewise told the court it intended to depose more than a dozen people, including Dave Watson, president and CEO of Comcast Cable; Greg Rigdon, president of content acquisition at Comcast; David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks; and yet-to-be identified people from regional sports networks in which Comcast has an interest as well as people with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain who have knowledge of carriage terms and fees with Comcast.
Comcast’s shorter preliminary list of people it intends to depose includes Stanley Kroenke, owner of Altitude Sports & Entertainment; Timothy Boell, VP of distribution and affiliate marketing, Outdoor Channel, which has ties to Altitude’s parent company; and Jim Martin, former president and CEO of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment.
A case under the pay-TV microscope
The case is being watched closely because it highlights a significant rift between a regional sports network and the nation’s largest pay-TV distributor at a time in which video service service providers are facing a growing cord-cutting trend and looking to move higher-priced sports channels from their primary bundles to separate tiers tailored for sports fans. But putting Altitude on a less popular sports tier would reduce the RSN’s wide market distribution and jeopardize its historic business model.
Altitude TV has already argued that an OTT-delivered, direct-to-consumer model is not financially viable and that it has been unable so far to negotiate carriage deals with various streaming services, including Hulu, Amazon and YouTube TV.
The current scheduling order filed by the court is not necessarily set in stone. Comcast’s motion to stay discovery pending the court decision on the operator’s motion to dismiss the Altitude suit could stretch it out even further.
Altitude TV filed an opposition to Comcast’s motion on January 23, arguing that Comcast has failed to demonstrate good cause for a discovery stay that would likely delay the proceedings.
“And as long as Altitude remains unavailable to Comcast’s subscribers in the Denver DMA, Altitude and consumers are being harmed, and both would be prejudiced by a delay associated with a stay of discovery,” Altitude TV told the court.
Could we really see Stan Kroenke take the stand in this thing? Somehow, I still doubt it will get that far. Most cases settle before they go to trial.
But I never would have thought this thing would drag on for as long as it has, either.