- The National Hockey League this week unveiled a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that lets fans get news, game previews and notifications for the Stanley Cup, according to an announcement. The NHL Chatbot also has GIFs, game highlight videos, schedules and team standings.
- NFL's chatbot responds to natural-language requests for information, giving fans greater control of their chat experience, per the release. Fans can customize the experience by choosing to get game updates and news from their favorite teams.
- The league worked with GameOn, a chat engagement platform, to create the chatbot.
NHL's chatbot arrives just in time for the Stanley Cup championship that began this week between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues. The chatbot opens up another channel for fan engagement as the sports league aims to reach a fan base that's more likely to depend on their mobile devices for real-time sports news and information than live viewing. Demand for such programming is forecast to grow as more states legalize sports-related gambling activities.
The NHL has worked to engage fans on mobile platforms in the past few years, not only with its new chatbot that can deliver quick information to mobile-savvy fans, but also with a stronger presence on social media. This week, the league expanded its "Stanley Cup Live" pregame show with a simulcast on Twitter for the first time after debuting the series last year on Facebook Live. The Facebook Live stream lets fans post comments or questions for the show's hosts, participate in polls and react to the content with "likes" and shares, pointing to sports fans' growing interest in actively participating in the content they're viewing — even when they're not physically at a game.
The chatbot comes three years after Facebook announced major support for chatbot services in Messenger in a watershed moment for the technology. Since then, marketers have adopted the technology to more seamlessly interact with their customers while trying to save on costs around operating manned call centers. A Juniper Research study from last year suggested that chatbots can provide benefits that include both cost savings and sales generation, including a projected $112 billion in e-commerce transactions by 2023. But chatbot usage is still somewhat limited. A survey from Voxpro found that 68% of consumers still haven't used chatbots to contact a brand, and that 56% haven't used chat or automated features because they prefer experiences with real people.