PHOENIX — As Facebook’s latest step into sports, the social media giant is launching Trending Super Bowl — a real-time hub for content from Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Seahawks.
The hub will allow followers to see how the game is going on a scoreboard module, while also viewing Super Bowl-related posts, photos and video posted by professional media, celebrities and friends. The module will also include a running play-by-play from the game, and videos of some of the commercials from the broadcast.
Facebook is trying to improve the experience around big sporting events for users. During last year’s Super Bowl, more than 50 million Facebook users had more than 185 million interactions (posts, comments and likes) about the big game.
“We have been the second-screen, real-time audience,” says Dan Reed, head of global sports partnerships at Facebook. “This Trending Super Bowl is part of a broader effort to better surface the great conversations happening in real time around live sporting events.”
And not only during the game — Trending Super Bowl will be live beginning Saturday morning.
“We know the Super Bowl is an all-day extravaganza and this will certainly be available pregame and during the game and postgame and halftime, of course,” Reed adds. “We also recognize it is about the pageantry around the game and the halftime show and the TV commercials.”
Facebook wants the hub to be one-stop shopping for all sorts of content for the game. Facebook only will present material posted by official owners, such as what the NFL is posting on its Facebook page, or interesting and enlightening items posted on individual Facebook pages by anyone.
Facebook isn’t new to the biggest sports happenings. Last year, it saw 350 million people worldwide engaged in conversation around the World Cup.
Surveys have shown that two-thirds of TV viewers use social media during a broadcast. Of those people who are on social media while watching, 85 percent are using Facebook, the company says.
Also of benefit to Facebook, Reed says, are the quarterbacks in the game. Tom Brady has become the “most-liked” NFL player with more than 3 million, recently passing Troy Polamalu. Russell Wilson is a frequent user, including a locker room shot of him with the NFC championship trophy after Seattle’s overtime victory against Green Bay.
“Tom is a real model for how the paradigm is changing for how athletes can interact with the fans,” Reed says. “There’s always interest in seeing what Tom Brady posts after a game, they are so authentic and entertaining.
“Having both of those players active on Facebook is certainly great for us; they can’t post during the game, unfortunately,” Reed adds with a laugh.
So where can this lead?
“We really want to incorporate the amazing experience you get when you attend the game into the lean-back experience of watching at home,” Reed says. “We feel we are best positioned to do that; we represent the largest collection of sports fans anywhere on the planet.”
By BARRY WILNER AP Pro Football Writer