Friday Abernethy named new general manager of NBC Sports Washington

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After Ted Leonsis, whose Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, bought NBC Sports Washington, the regional sports network that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games, it was natural to wonder how the acquisition would affect the viewer experience. The short answer, at least for this season: not much.

Media industry veteran Friday Abernethy, who was named general manager of NBC Sports Washington on Thursday, said the way game broadcasts and other programs look on the network — as well as how fans can access to this content – ​​will be largely the same as before the August deal was announced, although improvements, to include a new digital streaming platform, are on the way.

“I think in the short term, we’re really excited to reinvent our programming outside of live gaming,” said Abernethy, who has nearly three decades of industry experience, emphasizing the distribution and licensing of content, in a video. interview. “I think we have full ownership of it, it allows us to [ask]’How can we go deeper with the teams and bring more of that personal element to the fans?’”

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Abernethy mentioned The addition of Meghan McPeak as a sideline reporter for Wizards games as one of the few changes to Capitals and Wizards broadcasts this season, and she said new team-focused programming is expected to debut by next season .

After the acquisition, which was completed last month, Zach Leonsis, President of Media and New Business at Monumental and son of Ted, said Monumental was interested in exploring a direct-to-consumer streaming option for Capitals games and Wizards that would give fans access to the stream without requiring a cable subscription. According to a statement, Monumental has engaged digital platform ViewLift to “design, integrate, develop and launch a robust digital experience for Mid-Atlantic sports fans across all major streaming devices.” Although Abernethy said the network is currently focused on supporting its traditional linear television experience, it will have a potential model to follow when it decides to go the digital route.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer launched “Clipper Vision” a direct-to-consumer streaming platform with six live viewing options, including an augmented reality stream with shot probability graphs and statistics, live commentary from former players, and broadcasts in Korean and English Spanish. The service, which does not require a cable subscription, costs $199.99 for 74 games this season and includes access to a library of past games and highlights.

Abernethy, who will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of NBC Sports Washington while helping to lead its integration into Monumental’s existing platform, said she will be monitoring the response to ClipperVision “very closely.” She will also be keeping tabs on Bally Sports, which has launched a standalone subscription streaming service in September, and New England Sports Network (NESN), which became the first regional sports network to broadcast live NHL games in 4K High Dynamic Range this season.

“I think that’s kind of the tip of the iceberg in terms of sports rights,” said Abernethy, who spent seven years in senior roles at Univision and fills the role at NBCSW previously held by Jackie. Bradford, who remains the chairman and CEO of NBC 4 and Telemundo. “…I think the alternate streams are super interesting. There could be a stream of bets, there could be multiple languages. These are all things we are exploring.

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Monumental, which acquired a one-third stake in NBC Sports Washington from Comcast in 2016 and also owns NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go and NBA 2K League’s Wizards District Gaming, has been experimenting with games focused on the Game. alternative tv shows before.

In addition to its Capitals and Wizards coverage, NBC Sports Washington airs extensive pregame and postgame coverage from Washington Commanders, as well as a daily half-hour Commanders-focused show hosted by Julie Donaldson, Senior Vice President of Media and Team Content. . Abernethy said the network hasn’t made any decisions about how it will cover Commanders, or any of the other local non-Monumental sports teams, beyond this season.

“We will explore all the opportunities we have in the local market,” she said.

Monumental also announced that DC-based agency HZ will support its rebranding effort, and Diversified, a technology solutions provider, will oversee the development of a new production facility near Capital One Arena. Construction is expected to be completed by next season.

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