Feb 21 (Reuters) - Time Inc, the publisher of Sports Illustrated and People, is launching an online streaming-video sports network in partnership with several major U.S. sports leagues, the company announced on Thursday.
Called 120 Sports for its 120-second original sports features, the network will partner with Major League Baseball (MLB) and the national Hockey League (NHL). It will also include sports content from the National Basketball Association (NBA), NASCAR and college sports.
The network will launch later this spring, and viewers can watch it on smartphones, tablets and the Web, according to the press release. Sports Illustrated will play a significant role in 120 Sports including leading ad sales and marketing.
The move comes as Time prepares to separate from its parent, Time Warner, the owner of HBO, Warner Brothers and several cable networks including CNN. When Time spins off later this year it will be mainly a print and digital company.
The magazine industry has been hit with declining ad sales and circulation, so building a digital presence, especially in fast-growing video, will help the company diversify.
In a memo to staff, Executive Vice President Todd Larsen said the network will enable Time to offer its clients more video-advertising opportunities, "one of many (enterprises) we hope to invest in as part of our plan to turn our brands into cross-platform powerhouses."
Time Inc is an equity investor in 120 Sports along with MLB Advanced Media, NHL and Silver Chalice, a digital video production company. Time did not disclose how much it invested, nor did its partners.