Facebook tags Catalyst for sports assignment

The social network is looking to grow its footprint as a hub for users to talk about and consume content about sports.

MENLO PARK, CA: Facebook has brought on Catalyst to boost the social network’s presence in the sports space.

"We are proud to be working with Facebook on an ongoing basis to further develop their brand in sports," said Bret Werner, SVP and MD of Catalyst, in a statement.

He declined to provide further details about the assignment. Representatives from Facebook were not immediately available for comment.

Catalyst won the sports PR account earlier this month, following a competitive review, according to sources familiar with the matter. Facebook had not worked with a communications agency full-time on its sports initiatives prior to Catalyst, sources said.

On Wednesday, the social network unveiled its Super Bowl initiative, a real-time trending content hub for the game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Arizona. Users can follow the game on the platform, as well as popular posts by members of the media and celebrities.

Last summer, Facebook hired Dan Reed, former president of the NBA’s minor-league operations, to oversee global sports strategy and partnerships. It also bought SportStream, a startup that analyzed conversations about sports on social media, in late 2013.

In November, Catalyst released its fifth-annual Fan Engagement Study, which revealed that Facebook is the most used social channel among sports fans. The study also determined that 80% of consumers are willing to take action after "liking" a sports brand.

Facebook beat analyst expectations in its fourth-quarter earnings report, released on Wednesday, with advertising up 53% to $3.59 billion in the period. The company said it had nearly 1.4 billion monthly active users at the end of the year, a 13% increase from the year prior.

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