Although Sinclair also owns WJLA (Channel 7), an over-the-air station, most if not all of the games will land on the secondary platform, which is available on local cable carriers but does not have extensive regional reach.
WJLA is an ABC affiliate and is largely locked into network programming.
In a written statement, Michael Miller, vice president and general manager of the local stations, said, “We are thrilled to partner with D.C. United to bring the games back home where they belong on WJLA 24/7 News."
Sinclair stations in Baltimore, Richmond and Norfolk might pick up the matches as well, team officials said.
United received complaints about Sinclair’s reach and production quality when the sides partnered from 2016 through 2018. However, fans were far more upset last year, when they encountered subscription fees and technical problems in United’s agreement with FloSports.
The situation was so bad, United severed ties with the Austin-based company a few days before the regular season finale and terminated a four-year, $12 million deal. The matter was settled out of court.
The rights fee with Sinclair was not disclosed, but multiple people close to the situation said United will not profit much off this arrangement.
Dave Johnson, the team’s play-by-play announcer since the 1996 inaugural season, and analyst Devon McTavish, a former D.C. player, will return to the broadcast booth.
This winter, United seemed close to striking a deal with NBC Sports Washington, which has an extensive reach in the Mid-Atlantic region and provides a streaming option.
However, the outlet apparently could not guarantee live coverage of every United match, in part because of its long-standing commitment to the Washington Capitals and Wizards in the spring and fall.
All MLS matches, except those on national TV, are available on the league’s ESPN+ streaming package. However, a team’s games are blacked out in its immediate area. A virtual private network (VPN) is a way around regional blackouts.
>> United on Friday conducted its final workout in Florida, leaving only Saturday’s preseason finale against the Philadelphia Union in Clearwater before flying home Sunday morning.
“Later, Clearwater; it’s been real!” goalkeeper Bill Hamid shouted as the team left the practice field.
Next year, United might end up splitting preseason camp between Florida and an international location.
United will take a 2-2-1 preseason record into Saturday’s match at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex. Both D.C. and Philadelphia were hoping to arrange a live stream, starting at 5 p.m. None of United’s previous matches were streamed.
Peruvian midfielder Edison Flores, United’s marquee winter signing, is expected to start after sitting out Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with expansion Nashville SC.
Argentine midfielder Yamil Asad, who was also absent midweek, seems likely to come off the bench after recovering from a groin injury suffered late last month. If he is unable to start in the season opener, Costa Rica’s Ulises Segura is likely to become the top candidate.