Facebook stumbled early in its attempt to capture real-time conversation during Super Bowl 50. Sports Stadium, Facebook’s new system for real-time updates during sports events, didn't seem ready for prime time during the critical first half of the game.
For example, the Denver Broncos scored the first points of the game with a field goal at about 6:49 EST. However, Sports Stadium on desktop failed to show a score update until about 10 minutes later.
Additionally, for some users, the desktop version said that the game started at 7 p.m. Even with all the articles that were written and shared to Facebook, for some reason, Facebook could not properly answer, “What time is the Super Bowl?”
Also, maybe, tell them the game has started already pic.twitter.com/eoDuvihzkz
— Max Willens (@maxwillens) February 7, 2016
Facebook introduced Sports Stadium for the AFC and NFC Championship games last month. The feature includes real-time statistics, posts from friends and commentary from experts.
Facebook told International Business Times that the company was aware of the issues with real-time sharing. "People visiting Facebook Sports Stadium during the Super Bowl may have experienced a delay with the scores and play-by-play information available in the Matchup and Stats tabs, or a problem with posting in the Friends tab, due to an overwhelming volume of traffic and activity. We are actively working to correct the issue. Content in the Experts tabs was unaffected," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Facebook has been working to position itself as a network for real-time news and sharing, which is one of the founding principles and hooks of Twitter. “We feel pretty confident that real-time sharing is an increasingly important part of the platform, and one we'll continue to invest in,” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told investors last month after reporting record earnings.
Social media users, some of whom took to Twitter to air their frustrations, noted another disappointment in Facebook's play.
Some users saw a lack of trending topics on Facebook about the Super Bowl. While Twitter had several hashtags -- #SB50 and #SuperBowlSunday -- that were trending prior to the game, Facebook did not show the Super Bowl was a topic even after the game started, for some users. Trending topics do vary from user to user based on identified interests and engagement with content on the network.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 7, 2016
Additionally, finding the Sports Stadium section can be difficult. There was no main button on the Facebook app or desktop version. Users could find it if they searched for Super Bowl, or if they clicked on Super Bowl-related content from a friend, on the mobile app.
Facebook’s entry into real-time comes as Twitter is struggling on Wall Street and to gain significant growth of new users. And so, Twitter is taking a play out of Facebook’s book by incorporating an algorithmic timeline, showing content not just in real-time but in a more personalized version.