D.C. United’s match at Toronto FC on Saturday is available for viewing, just not on the usual platforms. Not Comcast SportsNet, not ESPN2, not NBC Sports Network, not UniMas.
Instead, the 1 p.m. game between the struggling MLS clubs will appear on a free online stream through Monumental Network, the digital platform in Ted Leonsis‘s Washington sports empire.
CSN owns United’s local rights but chose not to pick up this match, allowing the club and Monumental to arrange coverage. Dave Johnson, United’s longtime play-by-play voice, and former D.C. player Santino Quaranta will call the game from a studio at Verizon Center, a Monumental property.
The match is blacked out locally on MLS’s pay packages, Direct Kick and MLS Live, but free to anyone in the mid-Atlantic region who logs onto Monumental’s website. The blackout does not affect Direct Kick and MLS Live subscribers outside the Washington area.
Since launching in January, Monumental has carried Washington Mystics’ WNBA games and Washington Kastles’ tennis matches. It is aiming to add college and high school sporting events, said Randy Boe, executive vice president and general counsel for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the NHL’s Capitals, NBA’s Wizards and the Mystics.
The company does not own soccer properties, but this summer, started Monumental FC, a weekly online soccer show, hosted by Johnson.
“Looking at how people are watching TV today — Netflix, Hulu, online applications — we are perfectly situated for that kind of viewing,” Boe said. “We think we’re positioned at an interesting moment in time.”
Monumental will not carry any other United matches this season – NBCSN will show two, NBC one and another won’t be shown — but would entertain the idea of filling periodic voids in the broadcast schedule in future campaigns. United and CSN are in the first season of a three-year contract. CSN also carries Capitals and Wizards games.
“We have all the tools to be a viable alternative,” Boe said. “We both want to see how it works and assess the results. We’re definitely open to doing more of them.”