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December 18, 2013

Wheelings and Dealings: Facebook Snaps Up SportStream

In a deal that will bolster its ability to deliver real-time content and real-time engagement around sports-related social chatter for advertising partners, Facebook has agreed to acquire SportStream.

The San Francisco-based company enables content producers and broadcasters to aggregate, filter and display sports data in real-time, and has already partnered with the social network to collate and package sports-related activity as trends for content producers and broadcasters. Using Faceboook’s Keyword Insights and Public Feed APIs, SportStream created an analytics tool for content folks to use to track what’s hot in sports, by slicing and dicing social activity by demographic information like location, gender and age.

“From the 30 million people in the U.S. talking about the NFL during opening weekend to Kobe Bryant announcing his return to the Lakers via his Facebook Page earlier this month, a spirited conversation about sports is happening on Facebook both in real-time and over the water cooler the day after,” said Justin Osofsky, vice president of media partnerships and global operations at Facebook. “We want to help people connect with their passion around sports, and the world more generally.  If there is something interesting going on, people are talking about it on Facebook. From favorite television shows to breaking news, these conversations are happening on Facebook.”

By bringing the company in-house, Facebook can offer that information and those analytics out to its advertising partners looking to make targeted brand engagement efforts around sports. It’s also useful for its technology partners looking to make use of social information for their own applications and platforms. For instance, a sports star could create a curated, interactive destination for fans during games.

In fact, SportStream already offers a platform called SportsBase, which is used by NBA star Stephen Curry, English Premier League club Liverpool, the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, several college football teams and ESPN to create fan experiences on their Web sites. Visitors to the pages can see the best tweets, Instagram photos, visualizations of statistical information and scoreboards, all as the game happens.

“SportBase is a product that pulls together all the most relevant content from social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram across sports,” SportStream CEO Bob Morgan explained, “and we do it in real-time, so you get all the best commentary and content as the games happen.”

The pulse feature also shows the peak moments and the most interesting comments around, say, a last touchdown. And then when the game is over, becomes a site for recap information, final score, final statistical information and recapped tweets and commentary.

“Through this acquisition, we expect to meaningfully improve the ability for all of our partners to access and utilize the insights from Facebook’s tools and APIs,” said Osofsky. “SportStream’s demonstrated track record of surfacing interesting and engaging content, along with their deep understanding of our products, means that we will be able to build a better experience for the people who use Facebook, and for our partners who depend on us for real-time insights.”

SportStream was launched in June 2012 and initially it was focused around mobile app releases before realizing that its smart collation functionality was a potential goldmine. Terms of the Facebook deal were not disclosed, but the SportStream team will remain intact and relocate to Facebook’s Menlo Park campus.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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