Comcast is not interested in selling NBC Sports Philadelphia after the media giant agreed to sell its sister station NBC Sports Washington to Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
Comcast owns a 67% stake in NBC Sports Washington, while Monumental has owned 33% of the network since 2016. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in late September, were not disclosed.
NBC Sports Washington is one of six regional sports networks owned by Comcast, which includes NBC Sports Philadelphia. But according to a network source not authorized to speak publicly, the Washington deal was a one-time deal and Comcast has no immediate plans to offload its five remaining regional sports networks.
Comcast’s relationship with NBC Sports Philadelphia is a bit more complex. The media giant owns 75% of NBC Sports Philadelphia; The Phillies own the remainder. Comcast also owns the Flyers under Comcast Spectator, which also owns and manages the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League and the Philadelphia Fusion of the Overwatch League esports.
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NBC Sports Philadelphia holds the local television rights to broadcast Phillies, Sixers and Flyers games, but has been forced to make cuts due to the pandemic and the impact of cord-cutting.
In August 2020, NBC Sports Philadelphia laid off 17 employees—including Gregg Murphy and Derrick Gunn—after eliminating sideline reporters and focusing almost exclusively on game coverage. The network recently launched a new daily studio show called gathering of birds, was hosted by former Eagles offensive lineman Barrett Brooks and aired Sixers Out the past two seasons, hosted by 97.5 The Fanatic host Tyrone Johnson and Krystle Rich.
At one point, Comcast was reportedly interested in making all of NBC Sports Philadelphia content — including live games — available to stream on the Peacock. But the plan was put on hold due to internal concerns over NBC’s broader broadcast strategy, according to the Wall Street Journal. In February, NBCUniversal Local was forced to retract a statement that indicated the company would launch a streaming product for its regional sports networks.
For cord cutters, the cheapest way to stream local NBC Sports Philadelphia games is through a YouTube TV subscription, which charges $64.99 per month. The network is also available on fuboTV and Hulu + Live TV, both of which cost $69.99 per month. Last year, Comcast raised the cost of its regional sports fee on Xfinity to $12.70 a month, up from $3 in 2016.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment is primarily owned by managing partner Ted Leonsis and owns the NHL Washington Capitals, NBA Washington Wizards, WNBA Washington Mystics and Capital One Arena. According to a source, the sale was an opportunity to sell to an interested rights holder in full ownership. Leonsis is expected to merge NBC Sports Washington with the company’s streaming service, Monumental Sports Network, according to the Sports Business Journal.
Leonsis is also said to be in the mix to buy the Washington Nationals, according to the Washington Post. In April, the Lerner family announced it was considering selling the franchise it has owned since 2006.
In addition to NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBC Sports Washington, Comcast owns four other regional sports networks: NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California (both based in San Francisco), NBC Sports Boston and NBC Sports Chicago. It also owns a portion of SportsNet New York.
Before a 2017 rebrand, NBC Sports Philadelphia was known as Comcast SportsNet, which launched in Philadelphia on October 1, 1997. The Phillies bought a 25% stake in 2014 as part of the team’s 25-year, $2.5 billion deal broadcast games on the network until 2041.