Last week Facebook launched their Sports Stadium platform which claims to harness its 650 million sports fans to create the world’s largest stadium. The premise being that it provides a dedicated digital space for fans to interact in real time during a sporting event. Facebook correctly highlight that many people use their platform to celebrate, commiserate and claim bragging rights over their friends and other sports fans.
The aim is to create a second screen platform for people to feel like they are watching the game together even if they are on opposite sides of the world by producing content for fans to engage with and share. Game related content includes posts and comments from your friends, other sports fans and experts, live scores and statistics (Re/Code report that Sportradar are the supplier) and game details including times, what channel the game is being broadcast on and team news.
However, this platform has been met with some negative feedback including users not being able to locate it, only being available on iOS (US only), its slow updates and its similarity to existing offerings Twitter and Fancred. Facebook are entering a hugely competitive and lucrative market, with Fancred claiming 83% of fans use social media while watching sport on TV and 63% when attending a live game. They also claim that sports arenas are the second most checked in places behind airports. Fancred offer a customisable platform where you can assemble your ‘crew’, view live scores, comment, select your favourite teams and even share live streams.
Facebook say that in order to find the platform you must search for a particular game with Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Bronchos and Carolina Panthers providing its showpiece game, and that they will surface new navigation means soon. A reported 350 million people posted on Facebook during the 2014 Football World Cup, with 65 million during the 2015 Super Bowl, Facebook’s intention is to get all of these people in the same place. Initially Facebook Sports Stadium will focus on American football but plans to expand to basketball, soccer and more.
The platform has been criticised by some in the industry who suggest it should be called Sports Twitter due to it undercutting its feature allowing people to talk about sports in real-time. Both platforms are competing for valuable user engagement, during which time they can advertise to them. No doubt this latest development will cause quite a stir. This isn’t the first time Facebook have copied another company’s offering with previous initiatives including trending topics, ephemeral messaging and location services.
Perhaps the success of Facebook Sports Stadium will hinge on whether they can use their considerable reach to convince sports rights holder to negotiate rights to live coverage. Fittingly Facebook also announced a relationship with TV ratings company Nielsen in order to help them demonstrate how their users engage with TV content and vice versa.
Can Facebook compete with Twitter, Fancred and offline messaging groups or will their stadium be left with many empty seats?
What will be your first port of call to engage with the Super Bowl?