Sports is one of the most popular topics of conversation on social media, and TV networks chase it like Calvin Johnson tracks down a long bomb. Now, Fox Sports is aiming to not only increase social sports buzz, but incorporate it into the actual telecasts – via a high-profile partnership with Facebook.

This summer, the network began tracking Facebook fan sentiment surrounding college football teams and incorporating it into games coverage in a feature called Social Sidelines. Based on which team generates the most chatter, Fox then posts updates on the 10 most talked-about teams each week. On Facebook’s side, the world-conquering social network will ask questions of fans and run fan contests; the results of which will also be posted on air.

The goal of the integration is to help Fox engage and connect more with college football fans, said Chris Hannan, SVP at Fox Sports, which plans to expand the partnership to other sports such as MLB, NBA and NFL. “The Social Sidelines will allow fans to see behind the scenes, delivering unique content that goes beyond what is presented in the broadcast,” said Hannan. Fox Sports will also act as a guest editor for Facebook’s general sports page during Saturday primetime college football games this season.

This is a smart integration that lowers the wall between content creator and content consumer, according to Scott Meldrum, founder of Pollin8, a social communications agency. “Through social media participation, viewers can start to shape the content that makes it to air. What this gives Fox is a more invested viewer. It drives tune-in frequency and keeps viewers tuned in longer to see if their content made it into the broadcast,” said Meldrum.


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