Ted Leonsis loses weight, talks about owning a sports network

February 7, 2013

My first reaction to seeing Ted Leonsis’s recent appearance on Bloomberg TV was holy wow, he’s lost a lot of weight.

You can’t really do an entire blog post based on images of someone’s torso, though — well, unless it’s Alex Ovechkin, or John Wall, or Rex Grossman. So let’s move on to what Leonsis was actually discussing, which was his continuing push toward at least partial ownership of a sports network.

“I think everyone who owns a sports team, and especially those who own multiple sports teams, has to look at what is the way that they can grow their revenue and be competitive on the ice or on the court, and that’s to generate more media dollars,” Leonsis said. “And one of the ways to do that is to launch and own, or own a part of, your own network.

“Today, we sell our rights to Comcast SportsNet,” he continued. “They’re great partners. One day, yes, we would like to own our own network or be partners in a network and be able to share in the upside. Sports programming is proving its value in this new media landscape. I mean, what is being shown daily is that real-time sports really is the convener of large audiences. And it’s really proving to be the only kind of programming that’s TiVo-proof….It’s really proven its mettle and its value, and because of that, it’s helped prop up the whole cable industry.

“And so people that own the actual content are looking to find ways to unlock that value,” Leonsis said. “Monumental Network is a way for us. We can take original programming, we built Monumental Productions, we’ve hired 20, 25 people, we’re building our own studio, because we think we’re central to our local and region. Not just about [pro] sports, but high school sports and college sports, entertainment, music. We bring 3 million or so people into all of our buildings. We’ve activated a lot of commerce and restaurants and clubs and bars around the arena, and the launch of this new property helps us to tap into those new revenue streams.”

As an employee in the newspaper industry, of course, “new revenue streams” sounds like something that would be said in a meeting that I want desperately to leave. But stream away, I suppose. Actually, stream some this way, if you don’t mind. Because for all our focus on local and social and mobile…..wait, what’s that?

“Local and social and mobile is the fastest growing segment of the internet media market,” Leonsis later said. “If you just look at your own wallet, where you write checks to and send your money to, about 80 percent of your wallet is spent within 20 miles from your home. Sports teams and arenas, we activate a lot of that local spending and time online and interest.

“And what we want to be able to do is create media properties, so that as you’re going to the game, if you’re watching the game on television, we can provide you data and information and services about  your city, about sports, about youth hockey, about youth baskestball, about college basketball, college hockey, so that we can get more and more of your time,” Leonsis said. “And by creating it and being optimized for social and for mobile – in fact, in our first two weeks, almost half of our traffic was generated either from Twitter or Facebook, or from a mobile device. So we’re already seeing great traction through those venues.”

Watch the full interview here.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Sarah Kogod | February 7, 2013