BBC Launches Facebook App to Live Stream Wimbledon, Olympics

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

UPDATED: The U.K. public broadcaster wants to offer audiences live streams of major sports "to test the benefits of social viewing."

LONDON – BBC Sport has linked up with Facebook to launch an application on the social network that will offer audiences live streams of major sports events, including the current Wimbledon tennis tournament and up to 24 streams of Olympics coverage.

It is the first time the British broadcaster has live streamed events on Facebook.

The app promises to deliver a "rich social viewing experience, plugging online audiences into the communal excitement of big sports moments," the public broadcaster said.

Users can watch events with friends who are also online and chat about the action as it happens. Comment threads under each stream will also give Facebook users the opportunity "to take the pulse of reaction from the Facebook community in real time."

Press play on a stream, or "like" it, and it is shared with Facebook friends via the site's news feed. The in-app activity stream will also update in real time to show Facebook users what their friends are watching.

A beta version of the app launched Friday for Wimbledon, offering the BBC’s TV coverage plus up to six extra match streams from across the courts, as well as comment threads and sharing features. Live chat functionality will be added in time for the Olympics, BBC Sport said.

BBC News & Knowledge general manager Phil Fearnley said: "It’s a core part of the BBC’s mission to bring our quality content to audiences wherever they are, so I’m very excited to be able to offer sport fans on Facebook a really distinctive live streaming experience."

He added: “With our Facebook app we aim to bring even greater value to our online audiences, enabling them to watch together and share their excitement. We hope to use it to test the benefits of social viewing as part of our ambition to deliver more innovative and transformative experiences to sports fans."

The BBC Sport site currently receives over 20 million requests for streaming content per month. Facebook has more than 30 million monthly active users in the U.K.