United is also looking into a supplemental streaming element to broaden its reach, two people said. Additional details about that effort were not available.
Team officials and an NBCSW spokesman said they did not want to comment.
During the search, United also had contact with Washington’s Fox affiliate, WTTG (Fox-5), and Sinclair Broadcast Group (WJLA-7 and WJLA 24/7 News), as well as a national streaming service.
A United-NBC Sports Washington deal would benefit both sides.
United would help the outlet fill the network’s programming calendar from spring to fall, though scheduling conflicts with the Washington Capitals and Wizards early in the MLS season would push D.C. matches to a secondary channel (NBCSW Plus).
NBCSW would provide the team with a place on a well-known platform synonymous with local sports after last year’s subscription-based plan with FloSports was marred by technical problems, fan complaints and limited accessibility.
Three days before the 2019 regular season finale, United abruptly severed ties with the Austin-based company, which killed a four-year contract worth an estimated $12 million. It’s unclear whether NBCSW would pay a rights fee or simply cover production costs.
NBCSW subscribers also have access to live streams.
Before the FloSports venture, most United matches over the first 23 seasons were carried by NBCSW’s predecessors, Home Team Sports and Comcast SportsNet. NewsChannel 8, which was renamed WJLA 24/7 News, was the primary carrier for a few seasons, as well.
This year, the local broadcast partner will show 27 of United’s 34 regular season matches, almost twice as many as last season. With superstar Wayne Rooney having returned to England, United does not have as much national appeal.
United’s opener — Feb. 29 against the Colorado Rapids at Audi Field — is slated for local TV. Neither the Capitals nor Wizards play that afternoon. Three of United’s first six matches are on national TV (Univision, Fox Sports 1 and ESPN, respectively).
Dave Johnson, the team’s play-by-play announcer since its 1996 inaugural season, and analyst Devon McTavish, a former D.C. player, seem likely to return to the broadcast booth.