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TV Network NBC Sports Washington is acquired by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of Wizards And Capitals – Deadline

Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals, has agreed to acquire full control of regional television network NBC Sports Washington.

Founded by former AOL executive Ted Leonsis, Monumental has owned 33% of the networks since 2016. Pending regulatory approval, it intends to buy the rest from NBCUniversal and its parent company, Comcast, which also owns six other RSNs and a stake in New York’s SNY. .

Financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of the transaction, NBCU will continue to help manage the network, providing corporate and shared services such as distribution, technical resources and production facilities for up to 18 months. The network, which owns the exclusive rights to Wizards and Capitals games, is part of the NBC Sports Regional Networks division within NBCUniversal Local.

As streaming has gained traction and the pay-TV package has shrunk at an accelerated rate, the traditional RSN model has come under significant pressure. Born in the go-go cable television era of the 1990s and 2000s, the networks exploded in popularity and generated huge revenues from both distribution fees and advertising. Major League Baseball broadcasts can still draw significant ratings in many markets and generate significant cash flow, but profit margins aren’t what they used to be and the financial viability of streaming is still a top concern. .

Another layer to the situation is the continued escalation of rights fees, as evidenced this month by the multibillion-dollar package of media deals announced by the Big Ten Conference, a record milestone for college sports. In this context, a few RSN operators, including Diamond Sports, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, have begun to explore direct-to-consumer streaming options. Diamond’s Bally Sports+ will launch nationwide next month as a standalone offering.

The Wall Street Journal last year reported that NBCU was evaluating a range of options for its regional sports nets. The company had already decided to end the operation of NBC Sports Network as a cable network at the end of 2021, moving its programming primarily to USA Network and general entertainment streaming service Peacock. In early 2022, a press release from the NBCU indicated that the company planned to roll out direct streaming versions of RSNs by the end of 2022. But that message was quickly taken down, with a spokesperson explaining that it had been “inadvertently” posted and clarifying that there were no official plans for near-term streaming launches.

In today’s announcement, NBC Sports Regional Networks President Bill Bridgen described the deal with Monumental as a “unique opportunity.” He said both companies “appreciate local sports media and are committed to serving fans now and investing in the future.”

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 aired Wizards and Capitals games since its earliest days on the air. The Washington Nationals of baseball have a stake in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, a joint venture with the Baltimore Orioles not affiliated with the NBC Sports network.

Teams often have high stakes in RSNs. The New York Yankees YES Network set this framework, and the New England Sports Network, SportsNet LA and the Chicago Marquee Network are other important examples.

NBC Sports Washington is “an important business for our current and future core business operations,” said Zach Leonsis, President of Media and New Business for Monumental. “We look forward to further improving and innovating on the already best-in-class experience that our fan base enjoys watching live sports, for years to come.”

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 manages several other venues.