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Sports Leagues Form Digital Super Team to Challenge ESPN.com

Vancouver Canuck fans cheer during the NHL against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 10
Vancouver Canuck fans cheer during the NHL against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 10Photograph by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

ESPN built a cable-TV empire on the stuff that happens in the rinks, courts, and fields of American professional sports, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the leagues running those sports. So with the media habits of fans going through a fundamental shift, you can’t blame the leagues for wanting to cut out the middleman.

The NHL, NBA, MLB, and Nascar announced the birth Thursday of 120 Sports, a digital-only sports network featuring a steady stream of highlights and analysis in 120-second chunks that also serve as the venture’s namesake. The new effort doesn’t take ESPN’s digital dominance as a forgone conclusion, since the cable channel’s only videos are conceived for television and then ported to the Web.