Facebook is building a sports hub to rival ESPN

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Game on.

Facebook has announced the launch of Facebook Sports Stadium, its first shot at trying to provide the kind of real-time sports experience that is dominated by Twitter and ESPN.

"With 650 million sports fans, Facebook is the world's largest stadium. People already turn to Facebook to celebrate, commiserate, and talk trash with their friends and other fans," wrote product manager Steve Kafka in a blog post announcing the launch.

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Facebook is going to build a hub around each big game to pull in a variety of content including posts from friends, posts from a variety of other pages including experts, teams, leagues and journalists, live stats and play-by-play as well as overall game info such as what TV channel is broadcasting the game.

"You can follow the action as the game unfolds with a live play-by-play, and even like, comment on, and share individual plays," Kafka wrote. "You can also get up to speed quickly with live scores and the most discussed plays. It's a second-screen experience that we hope makes watching the broadcast even better."

Sports Stadium is launching on Thursday and is currently only available on iPhones in the U.S. There are plans to bring it to other phones and countries. The hub will start with football, basketball and soccer, with more sports to come.

Screenshot 2 Experts and Stats

Image: Facebook

The new hub will be a feature within Facebook, a small departure from the company's recent practice of breaking out new ideas into standalone apps, such as Rooms, Notify, Paper, Camera, Messenger and others.

Sports stadium is also notable for a design feature that mimics Twitter — updates appear chronologically. This makes sense, as following a live event tends to lend itself to this system, but is a very incremental step away from Facebook's Timeline, which is curated by an algorithm and is not chronological.

Facebook has been methodically experimenting with ways to break into the real-time conversation. The World Cup provided a testing ground for a real-time feature that looks a lot like Stadium. More recently, Facebook has been using live-streaming to create a more real-time experience around the election.

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Facebook is building a sports hub to rival ESPN
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 16: Fullback John Kuhn #30 of the Green Bay Packers is hit by strong safety Deone Bucannon #20 of the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, top, is sacked by Denver Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, below, during the second half in an NFL football divisional playoff game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
New England Patriots' Danny Amendola (80) hits Kansas City Chiefs' Jamell Fleming (30) in the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) scores the game winning touchdown in overtime as Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels (76) defends during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 26-20 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Charcandrick West #35 of the Kansas City Chiefs struggles to make a catch in the first half against the New England Patriots during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth, top, flies over Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller during the first half in an NFL football divisional playoff game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Luke Kuechly #59 and Shaq Green-Thompson #54 of the Carolina Panthers attempt to tackle Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (28) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis (83) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Greg Olsen #88 of the Carolina Panthers makes a touchdown reception during the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown in the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Thomas Davis #58 of the Carolina Panthers recovers the Seattle Seahawks onside kick in the 4th quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos free safety Bradley Roby, right, forces a fumble by Pittsburgh Steelers running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, left, during the second half in an NFL football divisional playoff game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones (95) stops Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) from scoring during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates with fans after the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers won 31-24. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
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