Friday, February 21, 2014

Is 120 Sports to ESPN What Netflix Is To HBO?

Time Inc.-Backed 120 Sports Launch Internet

A major announcement was made today involving the NBA, NHL, MLB, Sports Illustrated and Silver Chalice (owners of Campus Insiders). Each of the mentioned entities has decided to come together to launch a 24-hour digital sports network which will feature a mix of live and on-demand sports highlights/news/talk shows.

Could this be the challenger that actually makes noise against ESPN? Is this ESPN's Netflix problem?

Possibly but unlikely. It all depends on what kind of content and access this network can provide which different from what ESPN and the league-owned networks already provide. For example, sports documentaries are becoming a hot trend among sports networks lately and the archival footage which all these leagues and Sports Illustrated have access to could be used to produce documentaries which challenge ESPN's "30 for 30" series. 

If the site has easy navigation, then sports fans may flock to the site to look for the highlights they want to watch rather than wait for them to air during "SportsCenter"'s rundown. 

The sports leagues involved probably won't put live games on this new website but it would be beneficial to the site if each league offered it's own version of "NFL RedZone" during the season. This would definitely give 120 Sports a leg up.

This new site might create a dent in "SportsCenter"'s ratings but it is unlikely that the dent would be noticeable and it is also unlikely that this site will take down ESPN on the TV side or digitally until it can get some type of rights to live content.

Any talent hired yet?

The only talent we know of that is currently involved are Michael Kim, formerly of ESPN and Dave Ross, formerly of Fox 5 in Washington, DC. We also know that there are over 100 full-time producers, editors and anchors who are already hired. 

If this network wants to be anywhere near successful, it needs to find outspoken personalities who appeal to sports fans.

How does this affect NBA TV rights negotiations?

It is believed that Turner is favored to renew their TV rights with the NBA because of how well Turner has operated the NBA's digital properties. But this deal may be a sign that the NBA is not scared of ceding it's digital operations to other partners like the MLB should an agreement with Turner not be reached.

The MLB, which will be operating 120 Sports, used to operate the MLS's website, so it has experience operating other sports leagues' websites. Because the NBA and MLB have sealed a relationship through the launching of 120 Sports, it wouldn't be a shocker if the NBA sold it's digital rights to the MLB.

Will SI and the other leagues keep their own separate video units?

Yes. Although at some point, I wouldn't be surprised if this was no longer possible. If 120 Sports catches on, I don't see why the leagues or SI would waste money and resources producing two different types of the same video. Vice versa, if 120 Sports doesn't catch on, then it might be easier for one of these partners to go back to producing video solo.

This partnership brings a weird conflict to each partner involved because for example, if both and have produced and posted their own versions of highlights to a Heat/Thunder basketball game, which video does the NBA want to garner more views/ad money?

Does this affect SI's journalistic integrity?

This is something which is to be determined. USA Today faces the same obstacle with the MLB because they co-own their own sports website, Sports on Earth.

Will this be similar to "The Whistle"?

Sort of. If you're not aware, "The Whistle" is a sports website aimed for kids co-owned by MLB, NFL, other sports leagues and private investors. It features videos that give viewers a behind the scenes look at players and their lives as well as tutorials of how to become a better player in any given sport.

This venture will probably diminish the amount of attention which the MLB and NHL (NASCAR too, which is involved with The Whistle and 120 Sports; the NBA is not involved with "The Whistle") will pay to "The Whistle".

Who are 120 Sports biggest competitors?

Yahoo and ESPN. These two sites fight for #1 and #2 in the comScore list of top sports websites throughout the year. 120 Sports' traffic will be counted into Sports Illustrated's stats (currently #9). SI's ability to move up in the rankings will determine how successful 120 Sports is.

1 comment:

Anthony Baldini said...

The negotiations predicament is a pretty messy one, rights here, rights there - someone is going to have to be bold.

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