Capitals, Wizards launch digital network; cable next


Monumental Sports and Entertainment chairman Ted Leonsis will launch an online network this week in what is the first step toward setting up his own local DC TV channel.

The sports and entertainment channel, “Monumental Network,” will feature programming related to the teams and DC-area arenas O&O’d by Leonsis’ company, including the NHL Capitals, NBA Wizards, WNBA Mystics and their Verizon Center home, reports Sporting News. The launch comes a couple of months after Leonsis created an in-house production company dubbed Monumental Productions with about 20 employees. will eventually include some 20 affiliated websites available via the primary site.

“We want to become a cable network,” Leonsis told Sporting News. “This is a next-generation property that could very easily exist on cable or satellite as well as the Web.”

Currently, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic controls the Capitals’ and Wizards’ local TV rights and will do so for the next several years. The Caps’ rights are tied up for the next five years; the Wizards’ for the next 10. Leonsis didn’t discuss the possibility of bringing his teams’ rights to his network, but that appears to be a long-term option for the former AOL exec, said the story.

Monumental Network will feature a blend of apps, video and blogs. It will offer highlights and shows with names like “Caps Red Line” or “Wizards/Mystics Magazine.”

Monumental execs have looked into the possibility of carrying tape-delayed games, but Leonsis said he has not made a final decision on that yet.

Similar to MSG Network in New York, Monumental Network will feature content from events at arenas that Monumental Sports operates — Verizon Center, Patriot Center and Kettler Capitals Iceplex. That is expected to include concerts and behind-the-scenes coverage. Other shows will include coaches’ programs, “Scouting Report” produced by SB Nation reporters, and “Press Row,” a “Sports Reporters”-type show featuring beat reporters and broadcasters.

Leonsis also plans to draw on programming from SnagFilms, the online documentary production company he launched in 2008.

See the full Sporting News story here.

RBR-TVBR observation: Of course, the easiest and least expensive way to get DC-area cable (and over-the-air) carriage is to launch a multicast channel on one of the local TV stations. Then, perhaps, the full-fledged cable network could come next. We’re not 100% sure Comcast would be all that willing, however, to add or keep the channel after the rights are not renewed…!