Kroenke Sports Plans Regional Net


Kroenke Sports Enterprises, owner of the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche and the National Basketball Association’s Denver Nuggets, spurned an offer from Fox Sports Net for TV rights in favor of starting its own regional sports network.

Slated to launch in September, the as-yet-unnamed channel will offer Avalanche and Nuggets games, along with the National Lacrosse League’s Colorado Mammoth and entertainment and community programming.

Execs from Kroenke and Fox Sports have been through a flurry of negotiations in recent weeks as Fox tried to retain the teams for its Fox Sports Rocky Mountain channel. Kroenke ultimately turned down what has been described as a sizable offer from Fox.

The new Kroenke channel, however, is missing a big piece of Colorado sports: Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies. Fox Sports has rights to the team through 2007. Former Fox Sports exec Jim Martin will be the new net’s CEO.

Kroenke says it has started negotiations for cable and satellite operators. The net is seeking basic or expanded-basic carriage. If an operator relegated the channel to a sports tier, it could be financially crippling.

Fox Sports enjoys wide distribution for its sports nets and sizable subscriber fees. Regional sports nets typically command $1 to $2 per subscriber. There is no telling, however, what Kroenke will be able to wrangle out of distributors for its channel. Comcast Cable is the dominant MSO in the Denver market.