SBD/October 13, 2016/Media

Monumental Sports Network Officially Launches OTT Service For DC-Area Sports

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OTT service will carry live games from the DC area AFL, AHL and ECHL teams
Monumental Sports Network, Ted Leonsis’ DC-based OTT service, launched today. NBC Sports Group is a minority owner of the service, which will include a mix of live local games from leagues like the AFL and WNBA, tune-in shows before Wizards and Capitals games and documentary series. The OTT service will not carry live Wizards or Capitals games. Subscriptions are $8.99 per month with a full-year commitment, and $12.99 per month without the commitment. OTT subscriptions will be included in Capitals and Wizards season-ticket plans starting with the '17-18 season. ViewLift, a DC-based company in which Leonsis is an investor, will handle the back-end tech for the OTT service; NeuLion will handle the live-game streams. It is available via Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and MonumentalSportsNetwork.com. “We are bringing games that people didn’t have access to before and making them available,” said Monumental Sports Network VP & GM Zach Leonsis. “We’re not going to try to be ESPN. We’re a regional OTT platform.”

SERVICE TO SHOWCASE DC SPORTS: The OTT service will carry live games from the AFL Washington Valor, AHL Hershey Bears and ECHL South Carolina Stingrays, the latter two teams being minor league affiliates of the Capitals. It also will produce DC-area high-school games and NBA D-League games when a team moves to the DC area, which is expected to happen in the next few years. Leonsis also recently bought a stake in an e-sports team, which could find a home on the service. Because Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns the WNBA Mystics, Valor and Verizon Center, the OTT service believes it can be more creative with its programming approach. It already is looking into things like helmet cams and cheerleader correspondents for the games. “We’re going to use MSN as a petri dish of experimentation,” said Ted Leonsis. “We’ll try new things.” Monumental Sports Network, which sold a presenting sponsorship to Ticketmaster, will produce a live mid-day show on the Wizards and Capitals, as a way to market games on CSN Mid-Atlantic. The service will have more than 80 hours of original programming per year, including series like an interview show starring former Duke basketball player and White House aide Reggie Love called “The Walk & Talk with Reggie Love.” Another series, called “10 Reps with Alan Stein” stars a DC-area trainer who works out with several local athletes. Monumental Sports Network has a production crew of about 40 people producing this programming.

SUBSCRIBERS TO GET PERKS: To help drive subscriptions, Monumental Sports Network will offer perks to subscribers, such as autograph sessions with players and coaches, watch parties and discounts. The network also is exploring subscriber events like spin classes with Mystics players or ice skating with Capitals players. It also will offer swag, like T-shirts with logos and player quotes on it. When describing the idea, Zach Leonsis referenced an answer Nationals RF Bryce Harper gave to a reporter years ago when he said, “That’s a clown question, bro” -- a phrase that became an Internet meme. “We could have printed out T-shirts with that quote on it and made them available to our subscribers,” Zach Leonsis said. “We’re looking for these types of touch points because we are a local service with a local focus.” Monumental execs did not say how much their initial investment in the service is, nor did they offer projections on how big the subscriber base will be after the first year.
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