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Golden Knights facing disaster with local television deal

Earlier this year the Vegas Golden Knights announced a potentially problematic television partner in AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (Formerly ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain).

The issue stems from the channel’s availability in Las Vegas. Currently DirecTV offers AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain through a $13.99 a month sports package, but Cox, the largest cable provider in the Vegas valley, does not. Yesterday Cox released a bleak statement.

“We have begun discussions with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain about the possibility of adding the network in the Las Vegas market. We hope that we can come to an agreement that allows our customers to watch the Golden Knights, but at a reasonable cost. We know that many Las Vegas viewers are enthusiastic about the Golden Knights debut, but sports programming comes at an extremely high price. As we continually adjust our channel line-up, we must consider the needs of all our customers, not just sports/Golden Knights fans, and protect the value of the products and services we provide.”

Golden Knights fans with Cox don’t want to hear about reasonable costs or protecting the value of their product; they want Golden Knights games on their television. And it looks like Cox will not be providing that service by the time the regular season opener on October 6th rolls around.

Roughly half of the Las Vegas market is in danger of not being able to watch Vegas Golden Knights games.

Cox’s problem likely comes from competition. AT&T SportsNet and DirecTV, which is Cox’s top rival in Las Vegas, is owned by AT&T. So AT&T and DirecTV could see a financial gain from people dropping Cox in favor of DirecTV to watch the Golden Knights.

This is ultimately a disaster for the Golden Knights. Instead of growing a fanbase through television, Las Vegans will instead be unable to grow with the franchise.

For Cox, it might not be that big of a deal. If only a few people switch over to DirecTV, then that might be better than entering into a no-win negotiation with AT&T.

That’s where the the Golden Knights find trouble. Cox is indicating that there isn’t much of a demand for Golden Knights games. There aren’t enough people clamoring for the Golden Knights to push Cox into negotiating. For the team, that means there aren’t many people that care about the newest NHL franchise.

The best way to get those people to care is to have them watch the team. Struggle with the team through losses and celebrate big wins. But that’s not possible if the Golden Knights aren’t on their television.

The Golden Knights might not be the only Las Vegas team suffering from the absence of a Cox and AT&T SportsNet deal.

UNLV football will have four games broadcasted on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. Like the Golden Knights, UNLV may have fans in the dark for one-third of their games.

UNLV games on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain

  • Oct. 14 | UNLV at Air Force
  • Oct. 21 | UNLV vs. Utah State
  • Oct. 28 | UNLV at Fresno State
  • Nov. 25 | UNLV at Nevada

The Mountain West may have a work around, as in past years markets that were outside the television footprint of AT&T SportsNet could watch the game online for free via the Mountain West Network.

But with the Golden Knights arrival, the television footprint is expected to change to include Las Vegas, which could force a blackout in the area for that online stream.

The Mountain West has not made it clear if those online streams will be available in Las Vegas.

Beyond football, UNLV basketball games could end up on the same network. Typically a couple of conference games are on AT&T SportsNet.

As for now, sports fans in Vegas are better off with DirecTV to ensure access to Vegas Golden Knights and UNLV games.

Tyler Bischoff hosts Coaches Corner on AM 720 KDWN Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.