Forty Under 40: Zach Leonsis
Whether it’s related to sports gambling, esports or the latest advances in digital technology, it’s a good bet that Zach Leonsis will be at the forefront of innovation.
Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and General Manager, Monumental Sports Network, Monumental Sports & Entertainment
Born: Vero Beach, Fla.
Education: University of Pennsylvania, undergraduate degree in the College of Arts & Sciences; McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, MBA
Family: Wife, Melissa; dog, Parker (1 1/2)
What gets you fired up? Getting the green light to execute.
Guilty pleasure: Traveling. I never really mind traveling for work, as long as it’s not for too extended of a period of time. Oh, and also “Fortnite.”
Something your friends would consider “so you”: A lot of my friends know me as being pretty neat and tidy (maybe too much so?). I also really enjoy hosting events or planning special trips. It wouldn’t surprise my friends to receive an elaborate email from me about some big thing that I hope everyone can attend.
Could not go a day without: Surprise, surprise — my iPhone.
Causes supported: My team and I volunteer at Martha’s Table Joyful Food Markets at Hendley Elementary School on a monthly basis.
Sports industry needs to do a better job of … : Hiring more women.
He oversees content for Monumental Sports Network, the over-the-top digital network run by Monumental Sports & Entertainment that counts the Washington Wizards, Capitals, Mystics and Valor and Capital City Go-Go as part of its portfolio. Other OTT programming includes minor league hockey and local high schools as part of the subscription-based service. Leonsis also led the network’s launch of 14 original series and more than 400 episodes of original programming and game-day shows for the Wizards and Capitals.
The result has been a huge swell of interest in the OTT network that over the past few years has seen paid subscriptions jump by 50 percent.
“Over the past 12 to 18 months we have supercharged our growth,”
Leonsis said. “We’ve positioned Monumental not just as a sports entertainment company but as a media company.”
Monumental also is forging ahead to develop and expand business strategies around sports betting and esports with Leonsis taking an aggressive approach. “We are using the organization and platforms to enter new industries,” he said. “We’ve progressed our business from a traditional sports and entertainment company to one that is active in everything else that is going on.”
Though his father, Ted, owns Monumental Sports & Entertainment, it wasn’t preordained that he would follow his dad into the business. But following his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, Leonsis found his calling after a conversation with his father that emphasized the opportunities.
“Then it clicked,” he said. “I feel lucky to work in professional sports. It is everything I could personally want.”