After a long drought, DC’s sports scene has seen quite a run in the last few years. The Mystics just took their first WNBA title, the Nats are in the World Series, and the Capitals took home their first Stanley Cup last year. One company at the center of such much success and innovation is Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which is driving everything from sports gambling and esports to their signature teams and facilities along with a burgeoning OTT platform as they help reshape the culture of Washington. In addition, MSE is already driving global partnerships as well, since being unleashed by the NBA last year, with the company recently adding NEC as their latest multinational partner. Cynopsis asked Jim Van Stone, president of business operations for MSE, about the company’s approach on all fields and as the hub of DC sports business.
On lessons learned from the success of the Nats and Mystics: Be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. We share a firm belief that a rising tide lifts all boats during a successful run. The Nats have an opportunity to build that next generation of fans. Similar in scope and space to our hockey and basketball business, they’re highly focused on youth sports and athletics and building fans at an early age. Success breeds success and winning championships allows you to create business opportunities you’ve never done before.
On the NBA opening the door to foreign markets: Our success globally and internationally really goes back quite some time. We’ve had long-term partnerships with a couple global companies such as Etihad Airways and ORG Packaging, migrating into Alibaba and most recently our Wizards partnerships with NEC and others to come. D.C. is also unique and different with 190 embassies and 1-in-5 residents being foreign born.
On the first adopter push into Japan: We were very fortunate to draft Rui Hachimura, who is a fantastic player and fun to watch on the court but also truly charismatic off as well. It was important for us to create content that is unique about the Japanese marketplace and show Rui off the court and build our profile as an NBA basketball team globally, specifically in Japan, so we hired a Japanese-language correspondent who is capturing authentic content which we are now able to share on the Japanese-version of our Washington Wizards website and Twitter as well as our weekly Japanese podcast.
On OTT success: We’ve been a trendsetter. We looked at the value of live content and what it brings to the table early on as far as the major media demand for the four major sports but also the opportunity for people to consume content on the youth and amateur athletic side along with some emerging sports opportunities. With Monumental Sports Network, we created a platform that allows us to distribute live content for properties where there certainly is an interest and a demand. This year, we will broadcast and stream about 600 sporting events which rivals any regional sports network. Younger audiences have a heavy appetite for an a la carte style of consumption and having an OTT space to allow us to tap into that demographic is very helpful organizationally.
On Ted Leonsis as chairman: We are all a byproduct of Ted as chairman and all our owners as forward-thinking entrepreneurs, mainly in the tech realm. That is the DNA of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. We are very good organizationally at looking at things from a long-term strategic viewpoint with a lot research, including our focus in business intelligence and strategy analytics areas, not only from the team operations side but also in business operations. Being very entrepreneurial in spirit, I believe we are very nimble and also fearless top to bottom.