New badge, new kit, new TV deal
DC United is ending its 19-year partnership with Comcast Sportsnet and will sign a lucrative, multi-year deal with the Washington DC ABC affiliate, sources tell The Big Lead. The deal is expected to be finalized in the coming days.
The deal with Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group is a potentially groundbreaking one for MLS, as it comes at a time when the league is expanding. The timing couldn’t be better for DC United, which under new ownership finished atop the Eastern Conference in the 2014 regular season, advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2015, just unveiled a new logo, and recently finalized a deal for a new stadium in downtown DC.
“It will be a big step up for DC United in finances, opportunities and exposure,” a source privy to the deal told The Big Lead.
Real Salt Lake has had a TV deal with Utah’s ABC affiliate since 2012, but that’s only the 33rd largest TV market in the country. DC United’s more lucrative deal – which was spearheaded by the club’s Managing General Partner, Jason Levien, and the team’s COO Tom Hunt – will present the club more exposure as Washington DC is the 9th largest TV market.
Neither Hunt nor Levien could be reached for comment. Levien is the former CEO of the Memphis Grizzlies.
DC United had been partners with Comcast since its inception in MLS in 1996. Comcast is also partners with the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, but losing DC United means it will have to scramble for sports programming in the summer.