For as long as most Washington Wizards fans 35 or under can remember, the only place to see their favorite team on the TV screen has been Home Team Sports, or its name after being bought by Comcast, Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic.
However, if Wizards owner and CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment Ted Leonsis’ idea goes according to plan, that may change in the next few years.
In an interview with local radio news station WTOP’s “Ask the Owner” program, Leonsis talked about the future of the Wizards TV contract, stating, “At some point we have to launch our own network, and so the Monumental Network helps. One day you’re going to walk into the Verizon Center and see a big studio, and I suspect that our future means that we will have a network. Right now it (Monumental Network)’s available on the web, and our deal with Comcast ends in four or five years, and we’ll see what the future holds.”
This is a new age in NBA TV contracts. Last year, the Lakers signed a massive deal with Time Warner to broadcast their games on the new Time Warner SportsNet for $3 billion over the next twenty years. This new agreement allows the Lakers to be flush with cash, and gives them a leg up in free agency that other teams in smaller markets simply can’t have.
Now, you may be thinking, “That’s Los Angeles. There’s no way that the Baltimore-Washington area’s big enough to get a deal that huge.” Well, while it’s true that the Lakers are the most popular franchise in the NBA, so some of their feats can’t be easily matched, here is a list of the ten biggest metropolitan areas in the United States, according to the 2010 Census:
1. New York
2. Los Angeles
6. San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland
7. Dallas-Fort Worth
As you can see, we are living in one of the five biggest areas in the country, with Washington being the 9th largest and Baltimore being the 26th largest media markets in the U.S. Is that worth $150 million a year? Not exactly. But even if the rights to have Jordan Crawford flash his steez on your end of the dial is worth half of what the rights of the Lakers are, that’s still $75 million on a yearly basis.
An extra $75 million yearly could do wonders for this team. Even with the new cap penalties, that’s still enough money to have another max contract, to use as a trade chip, or, knowing the Wizards, to buyout overpaid veterans doubling as bench models. Granted, one certainly has to wonder how much of that $75 million would be going into player and staff salaries, the Verizon Center, etc., or into Ted’s pockets. It’s a fair complaint, considering that Leonsis has convinced very few Wizards fans that he’s willing to spend the money needed for a championship-level team. However, I would much rather have the extra money with the hope that it will be spent on the team and not artwork or yachts or whatever rich people buy, rather than Ted being an eager spender with not as much assets to spend.
If there is something Wizards fans want to see more than anything, it’s for their team to be considered one of the big boys at the adults table. A Monumental Network could provide the team with the financial backing needed to help elevate the team to elite status. The DMV is a large, vibrant, basketball loving area, and a new TV channel would show that ownership is willing to tap into and appease that community and it’s demand for a high quality basketball team.