As part of a new Facebook Fantasy Games product, the company is launching a series of daily sports prediction contests, as well as the ability for users to set up their own leagues. The company announced partnerships with Whistle Sports, MLB and LaLiga, who will manage multisport, baseball, and soccer offerings, respectively. Other partners are expected to run similar games, and the long-term vision includes individual users being able to create questions and contests themselves.
“We want this to be something that could be customized for different fan bases,” Rob Shaw, Facebook director, sports media and league partnerships, said in an interview. “We’ve come up with a simple set of games. From there, the aspiration is for it to take on several lives of its own.” In the coming months, Facebook will also offer games tied to entertainment properties like The Bachelorette and Survivor.
Shaw said his team has been discussing potential fantasy sports opportunities since he joined Facebook over seven years ago. According to an industry report, roughly 60 million Americans and Canadians played fantasy games in 2020.
Facebook’s offering is built to appeal to casual fans, with the assumption that dedicated followers are likely already being served by sport-specific products elsewhere. The first slew of questions will be simple (i.e. which team will hit more home runs tonight?) and people will be able to weigh in directly from posts in Facebook’s newsfeed.
As the program expands, sportsbooks currently waging a customer acquisition war are likely to get in on the action. Organizations running fantasy contests on Facebook will be able to use the service’s marketing tools to retarget participants. Facebook, though, isn’t looking to offer real-money wagering itself.
“We have no aspiration to make this into a betting product,” Shaw said, and the company is content partnering with operators across the landscape. He said the relationships are very similar to Facebook’s connections to media companies—guiding them on how best to reach and engage people on the platform. The new product also fits into Facebook’s recent efforts to include more personal content and fewer political posts in its central feed.
“Our goal here is to come up with a fun, easy to use, social game,” Shaw said, “and really to be able to reach a lot of different people.”