Comcast is selling an RSN, but the identity of the buyer shouldn’t raise eyebrows or sound alarm bells.
Per a Tuesday release, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which already owned a 33% stake in the RSN, is buying the remainder of the network. Monumental is owned by Ted Leonsis, who also owns the Capitals and Wizards. Both teams have rights deals with NBC Sports Washington.
“We at Monumental Sports & Entertainment are incredibly excited to have reached an agreement to acquire NBC Sports Washington, an important business for our current and future core business operations,” said Zach Leonsis, President of Media & New Enterprises, Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “Comcast NBCUniversal has built a strong regional sports network in NBC Sports Washington. 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.”
Notably, the Sports Business Journal notes that Comcast “is not looking to unload its other RSNs” and that this situation was motivated by “an aggressive and willing buyer in Ted Leonsis.” While the release doesn’t say anything about this, SBJ also reports that Monumental will merge NBC Sports Washington with their own Monumental Sports Network, a streaming platform that airs the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the Capital City Go-Go of the G-League, and District Gaming of the NBA2K League.
This seems like it’s opening the door for a direct-to-consumer offering for the Wizards and Capitals.
The release also states that NBC will play a role in operations of the RSN for “up to 18 months.”
As part of the transaction, NBCUniversal will continue to assist in the operation of the network by providing corporate and shared services, including distribution, technical resources and production facilities, for up to 18 months. NBC Sports Regional Networks, part of NBCUniversal Local, operates a portfolio of six regional sports networks.
That’s smart, as it gives Monumental some wiggle room while the company puts its stamp on the RSN in full.
While I do wonder if we’ll see more team owners buying their RSNs, this really was a unique case. Monumental already owned a third of NBC Sports Washington, along with the two primary teams the RSN televised. In this case, the purchase made perfect sense.