Friday, February 21, 2014

Sports Illustrated's 2nd Attempt At A Sports Network

For those that remember, Time, Inc.'s Sports Illustrated business once started a cable network with CNN that they dubbed CNNSI.  This 24 hours sports network tried mightily to compete against ESPN without much success.  It finally closed more than a decade today.  And so now we have the new iteration of a SI sports network.  "Time Inc. will team up with MLB’s digital arm, the NHL, NBA and Nascar to form 120 Sports, a 24-hour sports network that will stream everything but live games to the ever- mobile-connected sports addict."  SI will manage advertising for this venture.  While the plan is initially streaming, "The 120 Sports app will be free but could, down the road, grow to include a premium pay service — as well as other sports."

As a product extension for Sports Illustrated, the idea makes sense.  But the space is already crowded with other sports entities.  Despite the fact that they are partnering with the leagues, they are also competing against each league's own apps.  In addition, 120 Sports faces existing competition from ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, and NBC who are already heavily invested in the space.  120 Sports success will depend on how they can uniquely approach the content and demonstrate better value for the user.  But baseball fans may be already tied to MLB apps while football fans are tightly connected to NFL apps.  Should 120 Sports find a successful angle, they could possibly break through the clutter.  But it will not be easy.