Facebook has big news for sports fans—and potentially bad news for ESPN and Twitter.
Late Wednesday night, the social networking giant announced the launch of Facebook Sports Stadium, a new hub on Facebook that will aggregate all the Facebook buzz about live sporting events in one place.
Fans can follow games, get live stats, see what their friends are saying, and view expert commentary from journalists, the leagues, and the teams. With this new tool, Facebook is making a more concerted effort to convince advertisers that Facebook is a valuable resource for targeting sports fans on game day.
“Sports is a global interest that connects people around the world,” wrote Facebook product manager Steve Kafka in a blog post announcing the new tool. “This product makes connecting over sports more fun and engaging, and we will continue listening to feedback to make it even better.”
Until now, the one major advantage that Twitter has had over Facebook is its ability to capture people’s attention during live events. That’s why live-Tweeting is considered socially acceptable, while live-Facebooking is, well, fairly obnoxious.
And yet, Twitter’s character restrictions, the difficulty in finding people to follow, and the constant stream of unfiltered, chronological Tweets can make Twitter alienating for new users. In fact, that information inundation is even alienating to some power Tweeters. Facebook, on the other hand, has always been far more user-friendly, but often lacks that roar of the crowd during live events. Now, for sports fans at least, that’s about to change. Facebook’s Sports Stadium appears to be an attempt to offer the immediacy of Twitter without what some consider to be that platform’s problematic legacy design.
And Facebook isn’t the only one trying to chip away at Twitter’s live event dominance in an effort to woo sports fans and advertisers alike. Just yesterday, during the launch of its Super Bowl channel, YouTube announced that it’s beta testing real-time ads, which allow advertisers to time ads across Google platforms with big moments during live events.
For now, Facebook is only launching the tool for football fans, but it plans to expand to basketball, soccer, and other sports soon. If Sports Stadium does take off, it may be tough for Sports Twitter to keep up. After all, according to Facebook, there are 650 million sports fans on its platform. Twitter, by contrast, has just 320 million monthly users total. We’ll keep an eye on both platforms to see which one wins out on Super Bowl Sunday.