One of Facebook’s most interesting new apps, Venues, aims to give sports bettors a live event companion tool that will add to the engagement potential of live-stream viewing, much the same way a welcome bonus casino engages its players.
New FB Apps
Facebook has released a number of new apps over the last few weeks as it strives to give users broader social media tools to use during periods of social isolation. Rooms is the Facebook Workplace’s newest feature that allows people to make and join 50-person group calls while the Messenger app now alerts users if there’s a suspicion that the person that they’re chatting with is a scammer.
To assist online merchants, Facebook has launched Shops that lets businesses set up stores in conjunction with Facebook and Instagram with future expansion expected for Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook Gaming gives gaming aficionados the chance to create and watch live gameplay.
Now, Facebook's experimental NPE team has released its latest app -- a new live event companion tool called Venues which seeks to add to the engagement potential of real-time viewing with social media interactivity.
The new Facebook Venues app aims to make watching streaming video and placing bets on those events a social experience. Facebook explains the app: “Despite drawing large concurrent viewership, live broadcasts are still a mostly solo viewing experience. Passionate fans are constantly seeking better ways to engage with other fans and experts around their favorite events. Venue aims to give fans an interactive second-screen experience, curated by experts and centered on the pivotal moments of their favorite events."
"Venue will work by providing selected personalities such as athletes, fan-analysts or journalists with their own Venue where they can comment on live-streamed events. So, for instance, if a NASCAR race is taking place, viewers can click into the individual commentators’ Venues to hear their insights and thoughts about the event. According to Facebook, "During the race, they’ll provide commentary, pose interactive questions and polls, and open up short chats, all around the specific moments in the race. Think of commentators as personal concierges for the main event."
The people who are running Venues have also created “Moments” which runs within the Venues app. Moments focuses on specific events within the event stream. Viewers will receive notification when a Moment is created. They then have the opportunity to enter or exit that Moment via the Venue.
Facebook plans to create alerts surrounding specific moments. Viewers will be able to watch the event and then click into a second-screen discussion at their discretion. Second-screening is becoming a key component of sporting event interaction. Facebook’s research shows that approximately 94% of FB users keep a smartphone on hand while they watch live TV to enable them to combine the experience of TV watching with social media. Social platforms have yearned to work out a way to facilitate second screening for years. Now FB believes that it has cracked the right formula and it can now balance social media engagement with live TV viewing.
Venues is Facebook’s second attempt to better accommodate real time sports engagement. The first attempt was in 2016 with Sports Stadium where users could click in through the main app and enter special hubs for each sporting event. There were possibilities that included a wide range of competitions and leagues. Users could follow along and then discuss the events.
Sports Stadium was Facebook’s attempt to enter a sphere of influence in which Twitter excelled. At that time Twitter maintained its position as the key companion for real time events thanks to its rapid-fire, real-time nature. Since that time however, Twitter hasn’t maximized that engagement beyond what it was. Twitter wanted to broadcast more live sports content so that people could watch the events while discussing them,
In the end, Twitter couldn’t maximize that engagement. Twitter was looking to broadcast more live sports content itself which would partner the two elements into one single platform. Twitter had broadcast deals with both the MLB and the NFL but the idea of merging broadcasts and tweets didn’t play out since fans preferred to enter and exit real time discussion whenever they wanted as opposed to seeing tweets appear on screen alongside the event.
Venues’ vision is to provide insights from different commentators. In this way, sports bettors will have access to commentators who regard the event from different angles and thus, can give users a better companion for live event viewing and wagering. In effect, Facebook is betting that users aren’t necessarily interested in watching an event and engaging with social content on the same screen. The concept gives Facebook a new way to tap into live event engagement.
This is an ideal time for launching such a tool. Facebook initially partnered with NASCAR for Venues and NASCAR has become one of the first sports to return as the pandemic abates. Live-stream viewing has increased 50% as more users pay attention to the few sporting events available. As additional sports return to action, Venues is perfectly positioned to use the opportunity to help introduce new viewing behaviors.
Venues could become a premier companion app with the right alerts, the right format and the right alternative commentators. This would pave the way for Facebook to become the leading tool for live event engagement. If Venues works for sports, in the future it could expand to cover news events, festivals, concerts and other happenings.