SBD/November 21, 2013/Media

Northwestern Univ. Turns Homepage Into Social Hub On Football Saturdays This Season

When the Northwestern football team takes on Michigan State Saturday, the school’s athletics homepage will again transform into a dynamic social media hub where fans are presented with a live stream of NU-related content from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. SportsBase, a platform provided by S.F.-based social media start-up Sportstream has become the default landing page for anyone accessing the site on game days this season. Traffic to the site during fall Saturdays is 40-50% higher than non-game days, and NU said during its “homepage takeovers,” it has seen users’ website sessions are 59% longer than normal. Sportstream, whose other partners include 11 additional colleges and three pro franchises, began providing NU with the interface this season. The technology utilizes the company’s extensive database to deliver the most relevant and engaging content in real-time. Sportstream co-Founder & CEO Bob Morgan said the company’s data model knows “every sport, league, team, player, coach, exec, everything down to mascots and cheerleaders, and all of the media associated with every sport and every team and their specific roles.” He added, “All of that structured data and knowledge gives us a real leg up, and then we develop algorithms for filtering content for every game, team, player and so on from Twitter or Facebook.” NU Director of Digital & Social Communications Doug Meffley and his staff also have the ability to customize the content that fans see on the stream. Morgan said, “They may want to emphasize certain sources, they may want to dampen certain sources. There may be topics like recruiting that you just really can’t have in their experience, and we built tools and components that allow partners to choose both the nature of the content that flows through their stream and they can also moderate it if they like.” Meffley said, “I think personally that this is kind of the future of sport entities, franchises and brands’ home pages in-game.”
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