Social media and spectator sports are basically made for each other, so the only surprise is it Facebook this long to roll out a product targeting the enormous audiences where they overlap. This week Facebook announced the launch of “Facebook Sports Stadium,” a hub for Facebook users to follow games live along with their friends, also integrating a variety of external media.
Facebook Sports Stadium offers live coverage of sports matches, highlighting play-by-play commentary from the user’s friends as well as sports journalists, analysts, teams and leagues, along with the required cornucopia of stats, player profiles, game schedules and other related information. The content is posted in real time and appears chronologically.
Sports Stadium will also tell users where they can find a game on TV, and Facebook is positioning it as “a second-screen experience that we hope makes watching the broadcast even better.”
Currently only available on Facebook’s iOS app, the feature is launching with coverage of the NFL but will soon add other sports including basketball and soccer. According to Facebook, its roughly 1.5 billion users include 650 million sports fans around the world, so there’s plenty of potential demand for a feature that gives you “the feeling you’re watching the game with your friends even when you aren’t together.”
The launch comes amid growing competition between Facebook and Twitter to build user engagement around live events, while relative newcomers like Snapchat are also planting their flags in real time social media.
At the same time there are already a number of social networks dedicated to spectator sports. Last year one such network, Fancred, introduced a feature that allows users to live stream their own sports commentating videos, using a system similar to Periscope. The new capability builds on Fancred’s original functions including text and photo sharing, all focused on sports.
Then there’s Sqor Sports, which features news updates, videos and photos, and collects content posted by current and former pro athletes on other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, aggregating it in one place for easier consumption and interaction.
Sprylogics launched an app, Breaking Sports, that allows sports fans and fantasy players to see sports news aggregated from all their favorite social media channels, conveniently collected in one virtual spot.