Facebook's research and development group, the NPE team, is launching a new app to get other fans excited about live events. This is the third new app launched by the internal Facebook team this week, focusing on experimenting with new concepts in social networks. With Venue, the company wants to offer a digital companion for live events, starting with the NASCAR race on Sunday.
The new app appears to be a challenge for Twitter, which is now de facto used as a “second screen” for commenting on live events and connecting with other fans. On Twitter, fans often use hashtags to add their comments to live events, which can range from TV premieres to sports competitions to important political events such as live streaming congressional hearings or the State of the Union presidential address.
The internal Twitter curation team also summarizes the highlights of major events (e.g.). These are short summaries of remarkable tweets, video clips, photos, comments, and more about an event or related message.
Although there are some similarities to Twitter, Facebook's venue does a different thing on the second screen.
Instead of everyone who sees the event constantly interfering with their own thoughts and reactions, the commentators for a specific event at the venue will only include well-known personalities – such as journalists, current or former athletes or aspiring "fan analysts". The latter could include popular social media personalities, for example.
These commentators provide their own views of the event and provide interactive questions and surveys for viewers. The organizer can also open short, restricted chats at certain times during the event. However, fan comments are not the focus of the app.
In addition, fans do not get stuck on their phones throughout the event when using the venue. Instead, the app sends a notification to users when a new "moment" is available in the app. These "moments" are not like the summaries of Twitter. They are one of the short digital ways fans can participate.
Facebook will test the venue for the first time with NASCAR's Food City and present the Supermarket Heroes 500 race on Sunday, May 31, 2020. The social media personality Nascarcasm will house the in-app venue.
Future NASCAR races will also be held at the venue. Commentators include Nascarcasm, NASCAR reporter Alan Cavanna from FOX Sports, and NASCAR driver Landon Cassill.
"As NASCAR becomes active again in the coming weeks, Venue offers users a unique and exciting way to connect with other racing fans from around the world – all from the safety and comfort of their own homes," said Tim Clark. NASCAR SVP and Chief Digital Officer in a statement. "NASCAR was built on innovation, and we couldn't be more excited to help a great partner like Facebook's New Product Experimentation team innovate new platforms," he added.
Facebook believes the new app will give viewers the opportunity to better engage with live events and other fans.
"Live broadcasts are still the rare opportunity for millions of people to consume content at the same time," said Facebook in its announcement. "Despite the large number of simultaneous viewers, live broadcasts are still largely a viewing experience alone," it says.
This is a bit lengthy. Fans definitely talk to each other when they chat about live events on Twitter. And when Twitter streams the video from a live event – which the venue doesn't do by the way – Twitter offers a special area where users can easily see other viewers' tweets. Other live video platforms, including Facebook's Facebook Live and Instagram Live, also offer chat experiences like YouTube Live and Twitch.
The real difference between Venue and Twitter is that the balance of power is shifting. All comments on Twitter are equal. In Venue, it is the experts who lead and curate the conversation.
Facebook has not announced what future events Venue could host outside of NASCAR, but it seems it has plans to expand Venue in the future as NASCAR is named as its "first" sports partner.
The Venue app is live on iOS and Android today.