Mystics excited for Monumental Sports and NBCSW's investment in women's sports
Mystics excited for MSE's new investment in women's sports originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON -- This upcoming WNBA season Monumental Sports and Entertainment is making a major commitment to their coverage of Washington Mystics basketball. Already the home for the local game broadcasts, NBC Sports Washington will also bookend coverage with a 30-minute pregame and postgame show. It is the first time in WNBA history that a team will have a regional sports network hold pre and postgame programming surrounding games.
It marks one of the first major coverage additions that Monumental has engaged with since their acquisition of the sports network last fall.
An expansion of coverage is a point of discussion throughout the WNBA. For several years, players have continued to push for media organizations to cover the league and its players at a frequency seen by the other male major sports leagues in the United States. Just like every other professional sport, there are intriguing stories, rivalries and epic moments that deserve to be told.
For the Mystics, it is a growth in coverage that they hope sets the standard across the WNBA.
"Man, I love this organization and not just for what they do for us," Natasha Cloud told NBC Sports Washington. "The unheard-of part is the Mystics- y'all get everything. You have access to everything. There aren't other teams in our league that do that. So when you talk about the investment into women, investment into us, progressing women's sports forward, this is what we're talking about. This is the type of investments that we're talking about."
This year is a pivotal moment for the WNBA. The league is seeing increasing growth across its television ratings and online social media engagement. Discourse and interest around the league are at one of their highest points in history. Already the league has signed another media rights deal to have more games on national television with ION Sports (along with previously existing deals with ESPN, CBS, Amazon Prime, NBA TV, Twitter and Facebook).
Soon, the league is expected to make a push for a larger media contract with its national partners. One that could be an unprecedented financial commitment to women's sports. Following it could be expansion and other types of investors wanting to get involved in the league.
The sport is at an inflection point after the historic NCAA Tournament. The WNBA wants to ride the wave of the success seen in the college game, but it all starts with visibility and more eyeballs on the team.
"I'm so excited about [the expansion in coverage]," Ariel Atkins said. "I mean, we always ask as WNBA players, our biggest focal point when it comes to growing our league is visibility. And so for Monumental to double down and show that not only are they about supporting the Mystics but by putting an entire network and all of our games, I mean... You got a show, I'm so excited about that. And that's, I mean when you say put your money where your mouth is, they're doing it."
NBC Sports Washington's new coverage begins with a blockbuster on the opening day of the season. The Mystics welcome one of the new 'super teams,' the New York Liberty to the Entertainment and Sports Arena on May 19. NBCSW's pre and postgame will be led by Wes Hall. Christy Winters-Scott enters her 14th season as the color analyst for the Mystics and will be joined by play-by-play announcer Meghan McPeak who begins her fifth season with the team. Ariana Freeman will make her broadcast debut as the team's new sideline reporter.
In total, NBCSW will broadcast 23 of the team's 40 games in 2023. Monumental Sports Network will also stream all Washington Mystics games, except nationally televised games.
"I think it's a two-way street. And I think our team has made themselves worth covering," head coach Eric Thibault said. "It's become a marquee franchise in the league and our players are accessible and interesting. But I think it shows commitment from the media as well in our organization that these are stories worth telling. And quite frankly, I think it's a good business sense. I think everybody has now seen that if you invest in women's sports that you're going to get returns and people are interested. And sometimes the biggest challenge has been knowing where to go find these stories or find the coverage. So as that gets easier, I think we're going to see the audience grow and grow."
Editor's Note: NBC Sports Washington and the Washington Mystics are both owned by Monumental Sports and Entertainment.