Official launch partners for 120 Sports are Geico, Nissan, Transamerica and Verizon Wireless, a pretty substantial bunch paying to be there at the beginning for this Chicago-based venture.
The streaming service is backed by Time, Inc. (in the form of Sports Illustrated) and is the handiwork of Silver Chalice, a digital media company led by Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. The way things work: Way back, Reinsdorf took the White Sox to pay-TV in Chicago (and the city hated him for it), on its way to starting a sports cable channel there. The new venture happens out of Harpo Studios, where Oprah Winfrey once did her thing.
Hosts include former ESPN anchor Michael Kim, and former NFL players Bryant McFadden and Ovie Mughelli. Reporters include former Fox Sports “Barfly” co-host Alex Schlereth and Laura Britther.
According to its press release, the launch partners get branded messaging “created in real time and organically integrated into the hot topics of the 120 Sports viewing experience each day” whatever that means, exactly. The 120 Sports people didn’t respond to my inquiry about that. Maybe that little green Geico gecko will pop into the highlights, or we’ll see Verizon calls to the bullpen (somebody’s already doing that for Yankees games). The release also says “original branded features” will be “intuitively published” when they make sense.
But here’s where it gets really interesting in the high-wattage PR speak:
“With a vision to shed the rigid constructs of traditional media execution, the fluid nature of 120 Sports lends to a natural and less disruptive brand integration strategy. The 120 Sports video user experience is complemented by a series of patented, interactive data cards that also allow real-time integration of sponsor messaging.”
I’m a sucker for brave new world of media execution. It just rarely looks like much.
But 120 Sports is an immensely logical step in a business of scores and highlights that come and go in nice, quick, little pieces. Weirdly enough, in visual field like sports, you’d think fans would clamor for video highlights. That’s apparently not true, quite.
A report, “Know the Fan” put together by Sporting News, Kantar Media and SportBusiness notes that in fact, sports fans go online to read about written content. According to a story on 24/7WallSt.com, the study says of the 100 million people who go online to follow favorite teams, only 31% watch game highlights. Twice as many read instead.
But the story also says that sports video online is trending big time this year, with live streaming gaining the most and the written word starting to lose it. The live vs. content thing may be simply that there aren’t enough timely or live online video clips out there. So 120 Sports might be right on time.