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Volume 23 No. 1
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Monumental to launch digital net

Monumental Sports and Entertainment Chairman Ted Leonsis will launch a full-fledged digital network this week in what is the first step toward setting up his own local TV channel.

The broadband sports and entertainment channel will be called Monumental Network and will feature programming related to the teams and Washington, D.C.-area arenas operated by Leonsis’ company, including the NHL Capitals, NBA Wizards, WNBA Mystics and those teams’ Verizon Center home.

The broadband channel eventually will grow to include more than 20 affiliated websites.
The broadband channel will be housed at and eventually will grow to include more than 20 affiliated websites that will be available via the primary site.

“We want to become a cable network,” Leonsis said. “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. In an interview last week, Leonsis was complimentary of Comcast SportsNet, calling it a “great relationship.” He did not discuss the possibility of bringing his teams’ rights to his network, but that clearly appears to be a long-term option for the former AOL executive.

“We don’t know what the long-term future holds,” he said. “But we’re not going to not develop lots of interesting and new Web-based applications.”

Monumental Network will feature a blend of video and blogs. While it will not have access to live games, it will offer highlights and shows with names like “Caps Red Line” or “Wizards/Mystics Magazine.”

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

Leonsis was clear that the network will offer more than just sports content. 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 programs will include coaches shows, “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. He said SnagFilms will build a sports-themed library that he expects to be akin to ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series.

Monumental Network’s launch comes a couple of months after Leonsis created an in-house production company called Monumental Productions with about 20 employees.

“I’ve made it well-known that I believe our destiny is to be in the media business,” Leonsis said. “It might be that in the future there is a broadband cable sports and entertainment network. Or it might be that the network exists on all platforms. We just want to be prepared for it, so we made this investment in productions.” was built and developed by the Virginia-based Perfect Sense Digital.

Staff writer John Lombardo contributed to this report.