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CBS launches free streaming TV sports network CBS Sports HQ

The sports channel debuts ahead of a for-pay ESPN service, which Disney is planning for the spring.

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CBS launched a free streaming TV sports network known as CBS Sports HQ on Monday, as more media companies look to virtual television to offset slipping ratings. 

CBS Sports HQ is modeled on CBSN -- a 24-hour online news network CBS launched in 2014 -- with a sports spin. The sports service will present live news, game highlights and team analyses on connected devices. The service will draw on CBS Sports, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports Fantasy and other CBS sports resources. Like CBSN, CBS Sports HQ will be free to watch with advertising

(Disclosure: CBS is the ultimate parent company of CNET.)

"Sports fans can now get the news and highlights they want in a true, round-the-clock sportscast on any device, where and when they want," Jim Lanzone, the CEO of CBS Interactive and chief digital officer for CBS, said in a statement. 

CBS is among the growing number of media companies experimenting with virtual TV as pay-TV customers decline and ratings for traditional programming slump. Last week, Fox News said it would launch a digital subscription video service called Fox Nation for superfans of its cable network, while Disney plans to launch a $4.99-a-month sports streaming service this spring to complement its ESPN networks. 

CBS Sports HQ will be available on CBSSports.com, CBSN and the CBS All Access subscription service. It will also be available on the CBS Sports app for connected TV devices including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku, as well as the CBS Sports mobile app for iOS and Android.  

The sports service is the latest in a series of CBS digital initiatives that includes CBS All Access, a subscription streaming service for CBS live TV, shows on-demand and original series; an internet-delivered version of its Showtime channel; and a planned online network focused on celebrity news under the "Entertainment Tonight" brand.

CBS's current subscription streaming services, All Access and Showtime, have a combined 5 million subscribers. That puts CBS ahead of schedule to hit its goal of 8 million paid members by 2020, the company has said. 

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