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Facebook Sports Stadium: Threat or Treat?

Let’s analyse what could be the impact in the sport media ecosystem of the just announced Facebook Sports Stadium initiative.

What is it?

You can read the original announcement by product manager Steve Kafka here:
Introducing the Facebook Sports Stadium

“With Facebook Sports, all the content on Facebook related to the game is in one place, and it comes in real time and appears chronologically. You can see:

It’s another step in Facebook’s strategy to keep users always on its platform, by creating native experiences, following the Instant Article initiative which provides better content and performances for publishers without leaving the app on mobile devices.

There are some unclear points at the moment which may change the impact of this solution in the market.
It is unclear for now:

Facebook Sports Stadium is also solving a big problem in the social network’s timeline experience.
And the presence of the term chronologically is key here.

“All the content on Facebook related to the game is in one place, and it comes in real time and appears chronologically”.

Nonlinearity in the coverage of sporting events on Facebook was a major issue I did highlight last year in a conference in Geneva to Facebook people. Until now, if, say, a football match ends 3–1 and the best and most notable and commented goal is the first one of the winning team, you will find first in your Facebook timeline the 1–1 goal — which is basically telling you that your team has tied a match which is obviously totally inaccurate at that point in time.

Facebook content optimisation can not, for now, recognise the need for certain score-based content to be surfaced in chronological order.

Threat?

Instinctively I do see a potential threat for many other players in the sport media business and it seems I am not alone.

The US media has identified ESPN and Twitter as the main targets/victims of the potential success of this initiative.

So, going more in detail, if we look at who can be threatened by this in the sport media ecosystem we should include:

Also, not quite great that Facebook will probably define themselves who is considered an expert and so included into the Sports Stadium.

Treat

Now move on the treat side of things: in which sense this can also be an opportunity and for whom.

In general it may become a global destination for sport and a truly adopted second screen experience which will only increase sport content consumption overall and push Facebook pages traffic for those directly involved.

It may open up new partnership opportunities and a different way to advertise for brands

Conclusions

The Super Bowl 50 will be a first test of the solution in the US and we will see if Facebook will expand its Sports Stadium to the Olympic Games (good luck with ODF by the way).

Can this dominate the market? Or will it become another additional “platform” on which to focus our efforts to make sport more entertaining?

When YouTube introduced free live streaming we initially thought “Ok, that’s it, all rights-owners will just use that for live sport, there will be only one streaming platform going forward”.
This clearly did not happen.

Fans will decide its success.

The ecosystem will react quite reasonably both in a defensive way and embracing this as a partnership opportunity.

I will monitor this constantly ;).

The good news is that Sport is more and more content no. 1.
Facebook may need to hire a lot more sport media experts worldwide.

Will Facebook make this an embeddable component for others to include in their webs and apps?

What if you put the live stream of the match on top?