02/24/20: Monumental’s SVP Leonsis breaks down integrating the company’s divisions

 

 

Monday February 24, 2020

Monumental Sports and Entertainment continues to look to drive innovation around the industry as an early adopter in everything from its own OTT platform (Monumental Sports Network) to esports (investing in Team Liquid) to building an integrated business between Wizards District Gaming and Monumental Basketball. However, one of their biggest splashes recently came with the launch of Caps Gaming and the new audience that platform has built as first-in for NHL gaming. This week, all the worlds collided in DC as WDG had the first pick in the NBA 2K League Draft Saturday and Caps Gaming will bring their best player, John Wayne, to DC while the Go-Go host a STEM promotion, while the WNBA Champ Mystics start to prep for the preseason and the Wizards and Caps continue their seasons. How does it all work? We asked Zach Leonsis, SVP of strategic initiatives for Monumental Sports & Entertainment to give us the lowdown.

Leonsis on cross sports gaming: Our esports crossover into traditional sports with Wizards District Gaming in the NBA 2K League and Caps Gaming as an NHL initiative really drives greater engagement with our current fans and new fans alike. As we’ve witnessed esports and gaming grow into the most popular entertainment category for a new, emerging, and generally younger audience, expanding our efforts to match these demands was a natural fit for us. After we had invested in our endemic esports team, Team Liquid, we looked at how we could integrate esports into our core business. The result is a sharing of best practices and core learnings between traditional sports and esports that benefits our partners, our athletes, our staff, and most importantly our fans.

On brand integration success: We do our best to take the time to understand where opportunities exist and then find partners to match those opportunities so that a brand’s fit within an esports activation is perfectly organic. The best examples are what we have done with Leidos, and most recently with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. The opportunity with Leidos was a perfect fit with their recruiting efforts as they offer $2K for every referral they hire. Pairing their $2K initiative with NBA 2K, which features a young, quantitative and engineering savvy audience, made a lot of sense. The opportunity with the Embassy of the UAE arose because of esports’ inherent global community building ability. The Embassy demonstrated a genuine desire to use esports as a way to grow cultural exposure and understanding through gameplay. If we would have said that these kinds of partnerships were possible five years ago, people may have laughed. But we now see these as strategic opportunities for partners to grow their audience beyond the traditional ones.

On how gaming has fit with Monumental Basketball business: If you are serious about esports, then you know that best-in-class players deserve the same resources, time, and attention as our athletes in more traditional stick and ball sports. We treat them like athletes because they are athletes. The stakes are so high now with millions of dollars in prize money on the line and millions of people watching online, that even the smallest points of preparation matter. Whether it’s player nutrition, sleep schedule, sports psychology, or physical fitness, these athletes need every edge they can get over their competition. We have found ways to use shared services and best practices to learn from both sides when it comes to training and athlete development. Even though it is early in the process, it has already been a rewarding experience with some positive results.

On the rise of Caps Gaming: The popularity of Caps Gaming was a nice surprise for us. After enjoying sustained growth for Wizards District Gaming in the NBA 2K League over going on three years, we knew we had to do something special on the Caps side as well. Caps Gaming was inspired by a meeting where we looked at what we could do to expand our reach to current and new hockey fans & gamers alike. We signed popular ‘Chel streamer, John Wayne, who is one of the best hockey specific gamers in the world to help lead our efforts. The results have been amazing in terms of interest and engagement. John actually lives and plays in Alaska if you can believe it, but he proudly calls the Caps his favorite team! He plans to visit DC this week, so we know that this will be a great opportunity to grow all of what we are doing with the Caps, our players and our fans. We’re proud to be one of the first NHL teams to lead a local activation in esports.

On fitting the gaming business to the OTT space: We are always looking for ways to expand our programming efforts at Monumental Sports Network, which continues to be a great petri dish for us. Via our web experience and nearly dozen apps, we have experimented with many distinct product offerings including access to you’re your own unique camera angle of live game action, enhanced stats from Sportradar, access to helmet cams, and more. We love to showcase the personalities around our teams like the Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and the Go-Go. On the esports side, Wizards District Gaming and Caps Gaming directly reach young fans, exposing them to the amazing games of basketball and hockey. They learn about our players by engaging with the games and as they play, they want to understand more. We are in a unique position to build that fan journey because of all the assets that we own and operate under one roof.

PROGRAMMING

Major League Soccer hits season 25 with a badge of honor, touting recent distribution deals that will make it the most watched league in the world this year. Courtesy of these arrangements, the league will now be televised in 190 countries this season. Of course, in the US, the league can be seen on ESPN, FOX and Univision.

Curling Canada, TSN, and RDS jointly announced a new deal that keeps Bell Media’s sports networks as the exclusive English and French broadcasters of Curling Canada Season of Champions events. The agreement, which includes both broadcast and digital media rights, kicks in with the 2020-21 season and will carry through the 2027-28 season. TSN first began broadcasting curling in 1984, and has been the exclusive broadcaster of Season of Champions events since 2006.

ESPN announced two updates to its 2019-20 NBA regular season schedule and will now televise the Grizzlies/Rockets game on Wednesday, as well as the Heat/Pelicans game on Mar. 6. Both matchups will begin at 8p.

In addition, ESPN also locked in College Park, MD to host this week’s edition of College GameDay Covered by State Farm, taking place Saturday at 11a. Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis and Seth Greenberg will be live from XFINITY Center, ahead of a Big Ten matchup between the Terrapins and Spartans at 8p.

Henrik Stenson is on deck to join David Feherty on the season premiere of GOLF Channel’s Feherty tonight at 9p. The episode will kick off the 10th season of the series that initially debuted in 2011. Additional upcoming guests on Feherty (premiering Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on GOLF Channel) include: • Scott Van Pelt (March 2) – ESPN anchor; Gary Woodland (March 16) – 2019 U.S. Open champion, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Charles Schwab (March 23) – financial executive; and Suzann Pettersen (March 30) – 15-time LPGA Tour winner and major champion.

TNT delivers a Center Court doubleheader tonight beginning with the Hawks/76ers at 7p, followed by the Grizzlies/Clippers at 10:30p. Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Kevin McHale and Greg Anthony (analyst) will call Grizzlies/Clippers, with Dennis Scott (reporter) on site from Los Angeles. Center Court studio coverage will tip off at 6:30p.

On the local front, the YES Network will televise 26 New York City Football Club matches this season, its most ever, starting with the squad’s season opener on March 1 at 12:30p. All 26 NYCFC matches televised by YES will also be streamed live via the FOX Sports GO app. Joe Tolleson and Ian Joy will return as play-by-play man and analyst, respectively.

FOX Sports Carolinas and FOX Sports GO will carry an encore of the Carolina Hurricanes’ 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on today at 6a and 11a. The win featured the rare use of an emergency backup goalie, David Ayres, who stepped in for the ‘Canes after goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek both left the game due to injuries, prompting the practice goalie and Zamboni driver for the Maple Leafs’ organization to play against his hometown team.

2020 Cable Hall of Fame Celebration
April 30, 2020 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom, NYC
2020 Honorees
• Bridget Baker, CEO, Baker Media Inc.
• Jim Blackley, advisor to the CEO, Charter Communications
• Cathy Hughes, founder and chairwoman, Urban One
• Alfred C. Liggins III, CEO, Urban One; chairman and CEO, TV One
• Jeff Marcus, Cable Pioneer
• Dave Watson, president and CEO, Comcast Cable
• Jeff Zucker, chairman, WarnerMedia News & Sports and President, CNN Worldwide
www.cablehalloffame.com, 720-502-7513

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Manchester United got some goodies with a new partnership with Mondel?z International, whose brands include Cadbury, Oreo, Toblerone, Milka and belVita. The deal sees the two org create dual-branded products as well as interactive and engaging campaigns for its global fan base. “As a global company with a presence in many different markets our alliance with one of the most recognisable sports teams in the world will give us the ability to differentiate us from competitors by offering our consumers added value through engaging products and experiences,” said Colin O’Toole, Associate Marketing Director at Mondel?z

Major League Soccer Canada and Kellogg Canada announced a multi-year partnership to serve as the league’s official snack. As part of the agreement, Kellogg’s brands including Cheez-It, Pringles, Rice Krispies, Pop-Tarts, Eggo, Nutri-Grain and more, will become an integral part of the gameday experience, anchored in a joint, multi-touchpoint marketing campaign designed to connect MLS fans across Canada with Kellogg’s portfolio of iconic brands.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

William Hill was reportedly named as the exclusive gambling partner for Bellator MMA, per SBC News. The deal sees William Hill support the MMA promotion’s European Series events throughout 2020. “MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and so a partnership with a major promotion like Bellator made perfect sense to us,” said Liam McKee, Global Head of Media & Sponsorship at William Hill.

D.C. United and Caesars Entertainment entered a strategic partnership that will kick in with the beginning of the 2020 MLS Season. The partnership will see the global casino-entertainment company feature its “Caesars Sports” logo on D.C. United jerseys in addition to other sponsorship activations at Audi Field. The partnership will also include a number of Game Day activations at Audi Field, including promotional giveaways, LED signage, special match moments, and suites for usage during D.C. United home games and Audi Field events.

AEG and Fuelster partnered to bring the first-ever, on-demand fuel delivery to sports and entertainment fans at STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE. Fans attending a game, concert or event can gas delivered directly to their parked vehicles at any STAPLES Center or L.A. LIVE operated parking lots and structures.

ESPORTS

The 2020 TEKKEN World Tour will span the globe, with Bandai Namco announcing that the 2020 season will kick off in April with Tokyo TEKKEN masters and then feature a season that will touchdown in such locales as Pakistan, Peru and Africa’s Ivory Coast, as well as California for NorCal Regionals and Lyon, France for The Mixup, moving on to Sweden’s ever-hype Headstomper in addition to Combo Breaker, Chicagoland’s TWT Master Event and EVO. The season will come to an end on December 12-13 in New Orleans, for the Championship.

Blizzard detailed broadcast plans for Overwatch Contenders refining “coverage in order to emphasize top teams and star players in each region.” Plans will include live coverage of all semifinals and finals of Contenders weekly play in each region with some regions featuring additional broadcasts from both weekly play and Contenders Trials weekly play. Meanwhile, breakout stars and highlights from the earlier rounds of the tournaments will be featured in new shoulder content. The first broadcast will be Contenders Australia Trials on Feb. 27 at 2a.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Players on the United States women’s national team have reportedly filed a motion that seeks over $66 million in damages and back pay as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. US Soccer, meanwhile, filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed. A trial is set for May 5.

Caroline Lacey is joining Creative Artists Agency as an executive in CAA Search, the agency’s Executive Search and Human Capital Advisory division. Focusing on developing networks specifically within the video game, mobile gaming, and esports industries, Lacey will lead CAA’s Executive Search’s efforts in the gaming space, and will be based in CAA’s London office.

THE MAIN EVENT

Louisville/Florida State on ESPN at 7p.

The 9th Annual Cynopsis Sports Awards | 4/23 | NYAC, NYC

The Navigator award is given to the individual who has presented new opportunities and challenges to keep audiences engaged and entertained in this constantly involving industry. This year, we’re thrilled to present the award to FOX Sports’ President of National Networks, Mark Silverman. Join us on April 23rd as we celebrate Mark and announce award winners in these categories.

Finalists will be announced along with registration details in two weeks!

On This Day
1980: The XIII Winter Olympic Games close in Lake Placid.

In the Know
Which university’s basketball teams once claimed Cole Field House as its playing home? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Who was the last Team USA member to win Olympic Gold in the men’s single figure skating competition? Answer: Evan Lysacek. Kudos: Catherine Philbin-Olympic Channel/Madrid; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Networks/NY; Joel Maxwell/NY; Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Daniel Hassan-University of Michigan/Ann Arbor; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank

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SR ANALYST, RESEARCH >>
Warner Media/NYC:
Track/analyze/report advertising trends & dvlpmnts, especially as they are projected to affect ad sales. 3+ yrs relevant work exp incl linear, digital & social media mktplace knwldg. V-Lookups, Index-Match, Pivot Tables, Data Connections/Queries, etc.; VBA/Macros a +. Full info HERE (2/27)

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Responsible for training of all new SSR’s, responding to system issues & questions from users & reinforce all Policies & Procedures necessary to provide the best possible customer service to both internal and external client. Full Info HERE (2/28)

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Oversees all website & digital content initiatives. Proven successful exp mngng creative digital-first content, creating websites & digital properties a must as well as . proven track record showing strong growth. 5+yrs exp leading mngmnt of a website property. Relo pkg avail. Full info HERE (2/26)

SALES DIRECTOR >>
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Passionate self-starter to play key role in our revenue org to help drive our business forward. Partner w/sales team to create proposals, presentations & media plans to bring to mkt. 2+ yrs track record of exp in similar role at media co. Familiarity w/dig & linear landscape. Full info HERE (2/26)

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