Can 120 Sports find a niche in sports streaming video market?

Without any examples of what they will do, it’s hard to guess where the new sports streaming video concern 120 Sports will fit in. But with content partners that include Sports Illustrated, Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA, NASCAR and major colleges, it’s a good bet sports fans will find something to watch among the two-minute clips that give the site its “120” moniker.

Our pal Todd Spangler has a great writeup of the details of the 120 Sports launch over at Variety, but I wonder how (especially without any football content) the new site will make a name for itself, with its obvious competition being the worldwide leader, ESPN. With the technical chops of MLBAM behind it, 120 Sports is probably going to look great and perform well online. And as long as it’s free it will get some eyeballs. But if you read the press release you see there is talk about the “premium” version for pay somewhere down the road. That’s where 120 Sports will face its real test and right now I don’t see a compelling reason to pay for yet another sports outlet.

What I do foresee in the near future is some real shakeout between teams, leagues and broadcasters, because right now it seems like some leagues — the NFL mainly — are in danger of alienating their big-bucks TV contracts with their league-owned digital plays, like NFL Now. In the early days many sports fans will no doubt pay to see what’s on, but I don’t think there is a limitless budget for anyone when it comes to viewing sports. At some point (like what’s happening now with cell phones) sports fans are going to pick winners and losers, and my bet is that whoever has rights to live action and/or replays is going to be the big winner.

I like the idea behind 120 Sports, as short clips are definitely the way to go when it comes to online video. But do people really want a mix of features and other etcetera from a wide range of different sports? Or are they going to go to sports-specific or team-centric sites first? I just don’t see how 120 Sports is going to be significantly different from what’s available now but maybe they will show us when content is actually live.

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