Monumental Sports & Entertainment to buy NBC Sports Washington – Sports Business Journal

In a move to gain more control of his teams’ local media rights, Ted Leonsis’ Monumental Sports & Entertainment is in the process of buying the NBC Sports Washington RSN from Comcast. Monumental, which already owns 33% of the channel, has agreed to buy the remaining two-thirds for an undisclosed price. “Fundamentally, we believe in the value of our local, live rights,” Monumental President of Media & New Enterprises Zach Leonsis said. “There’s been a lot made of the decline of the regional sports network industry. We very much believe that the value of our rights continues to increase and we think that it’s highly strategic for us to own our own destiny moving forward.”
DEAL DETAILS: LionTree was Monumental’s exclusive financial advisor on the deal, which is expected to close by late September. The purchase is subject to regulatory approval. As part of the deal, NBCUniversal will provide distribution help, technical resources and production facilities for up to 18 months. But as soon as the deal closes, all of the RSN’s staffers will become Monumental employees. The deal comes as regional sports networks’ business plans have been hit by rising rights fees combined with shrinking distribution.
ONE-OFF TRANSACTION: NBC owns all or part of six RSNs on both coasts. This sale is a one-off transaction. The company is not looking to unload its other RSNs. This sale was described as a unique situation with an aggressive and willing buyer in Ted Leonsis, which made Comcast’s decision to sell the RSN easier. Monumental plans to rebrand the channel eventually and make its look-and-feel similar to its teams, which sport red, white and blue colors. The RSN holds the local rights to the Wizards and Capitals. Monumental also owns the Mystics, the G League’s Go-Go and the NBA 2K League’s District Gaming, in addition to Capital One Arena. Leonsis’ company already owns a streaming service called Monumental Sports Network. It plans to merge the two together once the deal closes, Zach Leonsis said. Ted Leonsis, who owns the Wizards and Capitals through Monumental, sits on the media committees for the NBA and NHL where he has a unique perspective on what’s happening in the sports rights marketplace. “This is highly strategic to us,” Zach Leonsis said.
ON THE FAST TRACK: Purchasing the RSN will put Monumental on track to eclipse $1B in annual revenue, Zach Leonsis said. “We’re going to get there by continuing our core properties’ organic growth rate, by acquiring complementary properties, by leveraging our Monumental platform to launch and investing in new businesses.” Zach Leonsis spoke of his plans to invest in everything from building a new production plants to setting up a top quality streaming service. NBC Sports Washington has dabbled with alternate telecasts focused on gambling, and Zach Leonsis said to expect more programming like that. “We’ve always had great production capability in house at Monumental. We certainly want to leverage that to enhance our original programming effort and do more with our live rights than what’s been done today.” Jackie Bradford has run the RSN since late 2020. She also is president/general manager of NBC4 Washington and Telemundo Washington.
EYE ON THE FUTURE: Zach Leonsis: “We’ve learned that sports fans’ appetite for content and programming is rampant. People really want more and greater access to their teams, and they’re willing to pay for it…Digital is clearly important for the future of sports media. We want to be very thoughtful about that approach. But we definitely want to be building a best-in-class digital sports experience for this network in the not-too-distant future.”
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