Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals, has acquired full control of regional TV network NBC Sports Washington.
Founded by former AOL exec Ted Leonsis, Monumental has owned 33% of NBC Sports Washington since 2016. It bought the rest from NBCUniversal parent Comcast, which also owns six other RSNs in various U.S. markets. Financial terms were not disclosed.
As part of the transaction, NBCU will continue to help run the network, providing corporate and shared services such as distribution, technical resources and production facilities for up to 18 months. The Washington network, which has exclusive rights to Wizards and Capitals games, is part of the NBC Sports Regional Networks division of NBCUniversal Local.
As streaming has gained traction and the pay-TV bundle has shrunk at an accelerating pace, the traditional RSN model has come under significant pressure. Born during the go-go cable TV era of the 1990s and 2000s, the networks exploded in popularity and threw off massive amounts of revenue both from carriage fees and advertising. Major League Baseball broadcasts can still pull large ratings in many markets, but the margins are not what they used to be. NBCU, like other RSN operators like Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Diamond Sports, has said it will explore direct-to-consumer streaming options for the networks’ programming. Diamond’s Bally Sports+ is launching nationwide next month as a stand-alone offering.
Teams often have sizable stakes in RSNs. The New York Yankees’ YES Network set that framework, and the New England Sports Network, SportsNet LA and Chicago’s Marquee Network are other prominent examples.
NBC Sports Washington is available throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, as well as parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. Launched as Home Team Sports in 1984, the network has carried Wizards and Capitals games since its first days on the air. Baseball’s Washington Nationals have a stake in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, a joint venture with the Baltimore Orioles unaffiliated with the NBC Sports network.
NBC Sports Washington is “an important business for our current and future core business operations,” said Zach Leonsis, president of media and new enterprises for Monumental. “We look forward to further enhancing and innovating on the already best-in-class experience that our fanbase enjoys of watching live sports, for years to come.”
NBC Sports Regional Networks president Bill Bridgen described the deal as a “unique opportunity.” He said NBCU and and said both companies “value local sports media and are committed to serving fans now and investing in the future.”
Along with the Wizards and Capitals, Monumental also owns the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go and the NBA 2K League’s Wizards District Gaming. The company also owns and operates Capital One Arena and runs several other venues.