By ALAN SNEL
Look all around and the Cox Communications TV cable company has its fingerprints on the Vegas Golden Knights.
Cox has sponsorship signage at T-Mobile Arena, home ice for the first-year expansion franchise.
And when you watch Cox cable TV in Las Vegas, you’re treated to promos for a show called “Behind the Vegas Ice,” a 10-part documentary series chronicling the birth of Las Vegas’ first major-league team.
The Behind the Vegas Ice show on Cox’s Channel 96 begs a very simple question: Why the heck is Cox showing a TV show on the creation and start of the Golden Knights when — on the eve of the franchise’s first-ever game — there is still no deal to show the actual VGK games on Cox?
Owner Bill Foley sold the team’s regional broadcast rights to AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain — formerly Root Sports — with the goal of making his NHL team a regional western Rocky Mountains brand.
Only one problem: AT&T SportsNet RM is not carried by Atlanta-based Cox Communications, the biggest cable TV purveyor in the Las Vegas market. In fact, AT&T Sports Net is a corporate sibling of DirecTV, which is broadcasting Golden Knights and is a rival of Cox Communications.
Golden Knights fans who have Cox TV have already complained to Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak about the Las Vegas team not being on the local cable system. The Golden Knights play their maiden franchise game in Dallas Friday night — and there’s still no deal, which means fans with Cox cable will be denied the chance to pop open a beer, sit on their couch and witness Las Vegas sports history if there is no Cox TV deal by Friday evening.
“I’m sure Golden Knights management is not happy about this situation with Cox, but they should have considered this long before jumping in with Root Sports,” Golden Knights fan Steve Kaiser told LVSportsBiz.com.
“My calls to VGK management about this situation always result in them blaming Cox for the roadblock here. I don’t think this is any skin off Cox cable’s back whether they show the Knights or not, but it would seem to be imperative from the hockey team’s perspective that they get this resolved immediately, no matter what it cost them,” Kaiser said.
On Sept. 18, Foley told LVSportsBiz.com that he was confident that Cox and AT&T SportsNet would strike a deal to show Golden Knights games in the Las Vegas market. He’s less than 24 hours away from failing on that prediction.
Two weeks ago, team President Kerry Bubolz told LVSportsBiz.com that it’s not uncommon for a team to sell its local/regional broadcast rights to a company not on the local cable system.
But Kaiser, the Golden Knights fan, said it’s more important for the Golden Knights to be the team of Las Vegas before it’s the team of the Rockies.
“Even though I’ve only been here two years, it seems to me the majority of people in Las Vegas have Cox Cable, as opposed to Prism or DirecTV. Why did Bill Foley not realize that first and foremost before selecting a broadcast outlet that Cox didn’t or wouldn’t carry? He needs as many eyes as possible on his new product,” Kaiser observed.
“The story I have heard is that he wants the Golden Knights to be a regional team, and he made sure they would be on a channel that serviced his home of Montana and other intermountain areas that already had Root Sports (now AT&T SportsNet), even though that channel was not available in Las Vegas,” Kaiser said.
LVSportsBiz.com could not reach anyone at the Golden Knights, Cox and AT&T SportsNet to comment.
In past years, Cox has broadcast Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks games. But no more — and that irritated Kaiser.
“During the past two seasons, all LA Kings and Anaheim Duck games were available on Cox Cable here in Las Vegas. Now they are/will be blacked out. So we who have Cox cannot see our home team of VGK, nor can we now see those California teams either,” Kaiser said.
“And if AT&T SportsNet is broadcasting the games (which Cox subscribers don’t get), we cannot see them even if they are on the NHL Network due to blackout restrictions. They need to lift that blackout situation with NHL Network until Cox picks up AT&T,” he suggested.
If Cox and AT&T SportsNet can’t reach an agreement before the Golden Knights-Dallas Stars game Friday night, then the first-year franchise in Las Vegas would have suffered its first loss even before the puck is dropped.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com