Facebook Trumps MySpace, Twitter Among NBA, Nascar Fans

Turner: But Those on MySpace Are the Most Vocal When Using 'Social TV'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pop quiz: What is the social network to which Nascar fans flock?

If you guessed Facebook, you would be right -- at least according to data from Turner Networks, which recently made Nascar and NBA viewing social by letting users sign in to the various online networks to chat about the basketball games and races. But MySpace users are the most vociferous and accounted for the largest percentage of chatter about live sporting events.

Users watching the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals could log on to Turner's companion websites and chat with fellow viewers.
Users watching the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals could log on to Turner's companion websites and chat with fellow viewers.
MySpace: Most vocal
Turner launched the social-viewing option using a service called Socialize from social-media technology provider Gigya. Users watching the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals or Nascar's Pocono 500 live could log on to Turner's companion websites using Facebook, MySpace or Twitter (or a combination of those) to chat with fellow viewers. The cable network found Facebook represented, on average, 48% of Socialize log-ins during the NBA games, while MySpace came in a very close second at 40%. Twitter users composed 12%. But from a message-volume standpoint, MySpace users were the most vocal, accounting for 53% of all the messages sent.

In last weekend's Nascar race, the Pocono 500, the difference among log-ins was more pronounced: Facebook accounted for 54% of users; MySpace was half that at 27% and Twitter trailed with 10%. Again, MySpace users talked the most, accounting for 44% of message volume despite only 27% of log-ins.

"I think everyone was surprised at how competitive MySpace was," said Dave Yovanno, CEO of Gigya. "It's not an all-Facebook social web -- users have choice. MySpace is not out and, in fact, was very competitive in terms of total connections and messages." Mr. Yovanno suggests there will be consolidation on the social web, "but we expect there to always be a few dominant platforms."

Turner's agnostic view
The practice of letting people log into TV network's website through their social-network IDs was made popular when CNN.com encouraged those viewing President Barack Obama's inauguration online to sign in using their Facebook accounts so they could chat live; shortly after that Turner used the same service, called Facebook Connect, to let users chat while watching the NBA All-Star Game. But over the past couple weeks, Turner became the first TV network to adopt an agnostic view, letting users sign into MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

"We were going to allow the Facebook guy to chat with the MySpace guy to chat with the Twitter guy," said Matthew Hong, VP-general manager of sports digital at Turner Sports.

In both cases, on-air mentions drove people to the Turner sites where Socialize lived. During the Nascar race, the on-TV commentators also answered questions from the social-networked audience.

Turner isn't releasing total numbers of users who logged in using their social-network IDs, but Mr. Hong said it was pleased by the "better user experience and higher engagement," as indicated by the time people are hanging out in Turner's interactive environments. "The early return is it gives people an opportunity to participate in our content," he said.

That Twitter, which just launched its own Facebook Connect service, called Log in With Twitter, trailed the other two networks shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone following web traffic trends. Despite the hype and rapid recent growth, Twitter has far fewer users than Facebook or MySpace. According to ComScore's figures for April, Twitter notched 17 million unique visitors to Facebook's 67.5 million and MySpace's 71 million.

How the numbers break down

Nascar on TNT (Pocono 500) Users:
MySpace: 27%
Facebook: 54%
Twitter: 19%

Nascar on TNT (Pocono 500) Messages:
MySpace: 44%
Facebook: 37%
Twitter: 18%

NBA Eastern Conference Finals Users (average of all games):
MySpace: 40%
Facebook: 48%
Twitter: 12%

NBA Eastern Conference Finals Messages (average of all games):
MySpace: 53%
Facebook: 35%
Twitter: 12%

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