Facebook is rolling out a new live feed that gives people another way to follow sporting events and the conversations around them as they happen. Called Sports Stadium, the feed combines what people already check Twitter and ESPN for during the games but shifts that second-screen experience from those properties to Facebook.
People check out Sports Stadium while a game is being played to see what their friends as well as experts in the media, professional athletes and celebrities are saying about the game. That's the Twitter-esque part. People can also use it to see monitor live scores and stats and keep track of each play in the game. That's the ESPN part. People can also see which TV network is carrying a game.
Facebook Sports Stadium won't feature any ads for now, according to a Facebook spokeswoman. Of course that will probably change given the opportunity for Facebook to sell brands on a captive audience and siphon some of the money marketers are already spending on live sporting events. And then there's the fact that Facebook claims 650 million of the people that use its social network are sports fans.
"We are focused on developing the consumer experience for Sports Stadium and, as usage scales, we will assess advertiser (and media partner monetization) opportunities," the spokeswoman said in an email.
By getting more people on Facebook to talk about events that are happening on TV, Sports Stadium could also help Facebook as it tries to factor into advertisers' dealings with TV networks. On Wednesday Nielsen announced that it would add data from Facebook and Instagram to the data it already gets from Twitter about what TV shows people are discussing online so that TV networks can use that information to sell brands on their audiences.
Facebook is initially rolling out Sports Stadium to iPhone owners in the U.S. ahead of this weekend's NFL conference championship games and plans to eventually add other platforms and sports, likely in time for March Madness, the Masters, the NBA Finals, the European soccer championship tournament, Wimbledon and the Summer Olympics. Yep, it's a big year for sports, and Facebook doesn't want to sit on the sidelines as all the attention and revenue flow to TV networks like ESPN and second-screen apps like ESPN's and Twitter's.