First look: Time Inc.-backed 120 Sports launches iPad app, with Android app to come next month
Sports highlights start-up, supported by Time Inc., is patterned after other short video news apps, and has secured major sports leagues as equity partners
The World Cup takes a day off following a thrilling group stage. Next comes the knock-out round, when teams are eliminated every day, and the event builds to the final on July 13.
120 Sports is a Chicago-based media company that, through their apps, will deliver two minute videos (hence its name). It’s biggest accomplishment so far is in getting MLB Advanced Media, the NHL and others to come on board as equity partners, most likely in exchange for the video content.
Getting hold of quality sports video is an incredible, and expensive, challenge. When Sporting News moved strongly into digital media the first thing it needed to do was secure the rights to video. To do this it partner with CineSports – a solution that, to be honest, proved less than ideal. (You can read my interview with Sporting News publisher Jeff Price discussing this in Talking Digital.)
The new app has launched into the Apple App Store first – and as the company has shown an excellent ability to swing deals, it is probably the case that 120 Sports worked directly with Apple – providing Apple a 30 day exclusive on the app. In exchange, the app is currently listed first in the App Store under Best New Apps, as well as on top in the promotional carousel as an Editor’s Choice.
The concept behind that app is not unique. Several news apps have launched in the past couple of years that use the same concept as 120 Sports: Newsy, for instance, delivers short video news segments, hosted by rather unentertaining news readers.
120 Sports relies on the guys-sitting-around-talking-sports concept, common to ESPN in the afternoon when there is no live sports to broadcast. I personally find the programming boring, and often cringe inducing. But there is apparently an audience for this kind of material, and the app has received mostly positive reviews so far. But the videos, and even some of the promotional videos, seem amateurish to me (you can judge for yourself below).
One wonders how long users will find the app useful. The problem with online video is the same with this app: pre-rolls before videos can be annoying, especially when they are too long – and viewers are only willing to tap on one or two videos before tiring of the advertising that interrupts the flow. If cigarettes can be described as nicotine delivery devices, this app is a pre-roll advertising delivery device.
But unlike print publishing, broadcasting is not debating the end of their advertising based business model. Because of this, there probably was little debate about whether 120 Sports should be a free or paid app. There are plenty of advertisers out there who want to target a young, mobile, mostly male audience, and 120 Sports hopes to tap into that.