Denver renews cable television franchise with Comcast through 2028 to chagrin of sports fans

Denver opted to renew its cable television franchise with telecommunications company Comcast Corp. through the end of 2028.

With the previous franchise set to expire this December, the city recently renewed its franchise for another five years, said marketing and communications manager Gaelina Tesfaye at Denver Technology Services, the city’s technology department. The new expiration is now scheduled for December 2028.

Comcast has bore the brunt of criticism in recent years as its Denver customers have been forced to forgo watching the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets since 2019. The blame largely falls on a stalemate between Comcast and Altitude TV, which broadcasts both teams.

The latter sued the national conglomerate over allegations of antitrust violations, and eventually reached a settlement in March, but the standoff continues.

The recent move to renew the franchise between the city and Comcast has already caught the attention of some Denver-area sports fans.

David Pflueger, a Golden resident, decries the decision due to Comcast’s lack of local sports coverage. He argued that “the people want the community benefit” of watching the Avs, the Nuggets and the Colorado Rapids.

“It is appalling that our civic leaders don’t act in our best interest and pressure big corporations and sport franchises to give back to the community,” the 59-year-old said Tuesday. With the franchise now renewed, it’s “too bad that this issue wasn’t more in the public spotlight,” he added.

Denver officials reviewed the federal guidelines that govern cable television franchising, and “found that Comcast’s channel offerings are in compliance with the federal requirements which state that providers, such as Comcast, must offer regional sports,” Tesfaye said.

However, “we are unable to require that specific sports or teams are included under the regional sports definition,” she added.

Leslie Oliver with Comcast’s Mountain West Region confirmed that the Denver City Council approved the renewal on June 20, noting “no material changes” to the agreement’s terms.

Available sports channels for Denver fans include ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, Fox Sports 1 and 2, all of the local broadcast TV channels and more. Comcast and other providers are required to pay programmers for the rights to provide content to customers, and those contracts are negotiated separately, a spokesperson said.

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