In Part 2 of our interview with Zach Leonsis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Monumental Sports Network, he talked about the Wizards’ G-League Team and the content that team will have next season. In addition, Leonsis talked about the Wizards’ offseason and what he hopes to see from them this season.
If you missed Part 1 from yesterday, click here.
Albert: Next, let’s talk about the Wizards G League team. What types of media viewing or content options, do you envision seeing with the G League team when they start playing in the 2018-19 season once the St. Elizabeth's arena opens?
Leonsis: It's our intention to stream all of the G League team’s games. We still need to sort the specifics out with the league because of the different media broadcast operations that they have. We'd love to create some original programming to lead us to the launch of the franchise.
This past season, we've created a birth of a franchise style documentaries around the Washington Valor (“The Indoor Game”) and the Baltimore Brigade (“Brick By Brick”), and they were really revealing.
They were mostly unfiltered, frankly, and we saw some of the ups and downs of what goes into birthing a franchise from scratch. It's a difficult and burdensome endeavor, sometimes, to launch something from the ground up, but obviously, a very worthwhile one.
We really want to create player profiles, demonstrate, and show off who these players are. It’s because a lot of the players have really unbelievable personalities. We'll create some tune-in programming for the live games, or 'pregame shows'. Then, it is our intention to stream as many games as possible on the Monumental Sports Network live wire.
Albert: So will it be similar to what we see with the Mystics, where games are streamed online, to in-depth interviews like “Tunnel Time” with Dan Nolan?
Leonsis: Yes, but something else I should add is this. Not only do subscribers get the benefits of seeing all of the games, and all of the original programming, and the cool tech integration's optionality and viewership they haven't had before, but we've also bundled together a 20 percent off merchandise discount. You can go to the team store and purchase any Mystics, or future G League team gear with that discount if you're a subscriber. You also get access to our once a month employee events and other experiences.
In May, for example, we did a 'Train Like the Mystics' event, with Elena Delle Donne and Ivory Latta.
Subscribers got access to join at an outdoor park with the official trainer of the Mystics, Delle Donne, and Latta. They then went through an actual practice and feel what actually goes into being a WNBA player. That sort of access to the team is not something that a league platform, or a regional sports network package, has even been able to offer in the past. We really value those in real-life touch points and we really value our ability to deliver those to subscribers, as well. Frankly, sometimes it's just a point of awareness. People aren't aware that these options exist.
We'll continue to host these events. We're really excited to share them with subscribers and we're really excited to alert subscribers of these benefits. Hopefully, people will redeem them and see why we're so excited about the Monumental Sports Network platform.
Albert: Finally, let’s talk about the Wizards. They are coming off their best regular season since 1979 and signed Otto Porter to his maximum contract extension. So now, you have John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter as the core for the next several years. Though other NBA teams have made many significant trades, the Wizards have “doubled down” on keeping their core players. What are your thoughts of the Wizards off season, and where do you hope to see them in this season?
Leonsis: I think the Wizards are very well positioned. They are on track to have an excellent year and make the playoffs again. That's a difficult feat in itself that really shouldn't be taken for granted. I mean, it’s great that we won our division last year and we'll hope to be able to repeat this upcoming season, as well.
We’ve committed over $200 million in contracts to Otto Porter and John Wall alone this offseason, and I'm not sure how many other teams can say that. We are big believers in continuity and also making sure your core is one that is drafted and developed. I think the only other top tier teams that can really say that are the Golden State Warriors, and the San Antonio Spurs. We take a big point of pride in that. We have developed our core over the last several years, and these are our guys that we want to ride with.
We had one of the best starting lineups in the NBA in the last season. I think that Ernie Grunfeld and the front office worked hard to build out the depth in our bench. I do think that we're a better team than we were last year.
I can't really comment on what other teams are doing. There has been a lot of player movement in the NBA this offseason. Chemistry is important. I think that we've maintained our consistency in chemistry and it remains to be seen how other teams will play out. We're always looking to improve the team, so when we have an opportunity to do so, we definitely will.
Thanks again to Zach Leonsis for taking time out of his day to speak with us. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacharyLeonsis.