ESPN.com recently began rolling out Facebook’s Open Graph. An example of what that would do is seeing a notification when friend reacts to particular articles, like Magic Johnson leading a group to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers.
ESPN’s director of social media content and strategy Michael Cupo wants Facebook to incorporate the “enable social sharing” button throughout the site. The first integration would be on text pages, later moving on to ESPN’s video player.
While ESPN joining is notable, many companies are reluctant to give Facebook too much data and traffic. Some forced users to download an App and with all the traffic and consumption happening on Facebook, some companies thought they were giving up too much control.
ESPN.com has taken a different route; friends can share what they’re reading, but all the reading happens on ESPN.com. “We’re taking a very measured approach to this,” said Cupo. “We feel like the experience on our site is best. We think we’ll get a bump in traffic. But the most interesting thing for us is understanding the user experience and the features this enables.”
The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and MSNBC have signed onto Open Graph, insisting that consumption of shared articles occur on each publisher’s site, not on Facebook.
ESPN.com generates roughly 600 pieces of content a day and Cupo noted the ability among Facebook users to subscribe to their favorite ESPN reporters and commentators and see what they are reading. “We think there is going to be a true serendipity that comes from that,” said Cupo. “If you’re a fan who really enjoys Jalen Rose’s NBA commentary, or loves reading [The Sports Guy] Bill Simmons, wouldn’t you love to know what they are reading ”
ESPN might eventually target Facebook users and could integrate Facebook’s Open Graph with its “Watch ESPN” tablet app. “It would not be crazy to see things going that way down the road,” said Cupo.