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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.

SEE ALSO: 10 hidden tricks to get the most out of Facebook Messenger

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.

See the best photos of last week's NFL Playoffs

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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)
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)
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)
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)
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