Facebook Acquires SportStream To Increase Sports Chatter By Providing News Outlets With Cleaner Data

Having watched Twitter establish itself as our go-to network for realtime content and chatter and LinkedIn move beyond the resume to become a professional content network, Facebook is taking a page from its fellow networking giants and continuing to push into the content game. Beginning with news and now sports content — areas where demand for realtime content is soaring — Facebook is on a mission to help media companies and its content partners more easily surface and make use of realtime sports chatter within its walls.

To do so, Facebook announced today that it has acquired SportStream, a startup that analyzes social media mentions of sports and provides clean data access to news outlets and teams. By bringing more sports-related chatter and data from both TV and digital news sources, Facebook hopes to lure more fans to its own watercooler — and away from its pal Twitter.

SportStream is a product of Paul Allen-backed news aggregator, Evri, which first launched its suite of sports applications for iOS and Android devices in September of 2011. Evri’s patented semantic matching algorithms formed the foundation of SportStream, eventually providing sports fans with a ready-made stream of personalized, realtime news updates from a range of sources.

The app also allowed fans to bring their social feeds into the conversation, tweet highlights, view in-game scores, and tailor their mobile content streams to focus on their favorite teams, players and topics.

After finding plenty of demand for this kind of personalized content experience, SportStream raised $3.5 million from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital in the summer of 2012 and spun out of Evri, becoming an independent company. Since then, the new mobile sports startup has continued to solidify its relationships with the providers of its social data, leading to the announcement last month, in which Facebook chose SportStream as an API partner, giving SportStream deeper access to sports-related data from the social network.

As Josh explained at the time, when people post about sports, “the problem is jumbled data. When you write ‘RG3 touchdown’, you mean Robert Griffin the third scored a touchdown for the Washington Redskins NFL football team. Facebook can’t parse that, but SportStream can. By making its sports data easier to understand, Facebook might get more outlets and teams to use it. Facebook hopes the perception that it’s a home for real-time event chatter will trickle down to users.”

Over the last few years, Facebook has been looking to strengthen its media partnerships and, in so doing, has allowed media organizations (like CNN, Buzzfeed, Fox News, NBC and Slate, to name a few) to access its data more easily. The hope is that networks like CNN will begin pulling status updates into their broadcasts, for example, and that its partners will begin to find new ways to incorporate Facebook’s enormous repository of social data into their content initiatives.

Of course, for media networks, making sense of Facebook’s massive social stream has traditionally been too steep of a hill to climb. But, in the case of sports content, at least, acquiring SportStream allows Facebook to fling open those doors and make it simpler for its media partners to parse its social data.

While terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, from what we’ve heard, SportStream’s product will continue to live on and the startup continue its work with the fifty plus teams and news outlets to which it already provides data. How long it will take Facebook to integrate SportStream’s tools into its growing content network remains to be seen, but as far as its potential audience is concerned, joining Facebook is a big win for the young sports startup.