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Networks, Media Companies Integrate New Facebook Features

Facebook unveiled the next iteration of its "Facebook Connect" platform Wednesday (April 21), expanding the level of Facebook interaction third party websites can built into their pages.

With the announcement of the new platform, which Facebook dubs "Social Plugins," media companies were allowed to pull back the curtain on how they plan on integrating it into their sites.

CNN, which has partnered with Facebook on a number of occasions for live events like President Obama's inauguration, will integrate it globally across and Users will have multiple ways to comment, recommend and share articles, as well as see which articles their Facebook friends recommend.

"Today it's possible that people may be more connected with their friends on Facebook than they are to the people they see every day, and sharing what interests you most with your friends online has become a form of cultural currency," said KC Estenson, senior VP and general manager of, announcing the feature. "As one of the most trusted sources of original reporting, CNN is uniquely positioned to reinforce the connections between Facebook friends. We hope this effort will make our brand even more personally relevant to our audience."

ESPN will integrate the features across, kicking off during the NFL Draft Thursday evening. Facebook users checking out the NFL DraftCast on will be able to "like" players and teams, and send that information to their friends.

The National Hockey League will also be rolling out the social plugins feature on, letting users "like" and share content from the site with their friends. The move is part of the league's "Hockey Marketplace" syndication strategy, which seeks to expand its presence on third party sites.

"We are excited about the potential of Facebook as an audience development tool because of its unparalleled reach and its unique word-of-mouth capabilities," said Perry Cooper, the NHL's senior VP of digital media. "At the same time, by providing our fans with features and functions they are known to enjoy, we continue to strive to deliver the best user experience at"

USA Network will integrate the features into its sites, and is launching a new game on its online gaming site, designed to take advantage of the new features.

"USA's goal is to continue to push boundaries, drive innovation and provide our fans the ability to access our content anywhere at any time," said Jesse Redniss, VP, digital. "By integrating Facebook's new tools that drive social, personalized experiences, we're offering consumers the kind of interaction, power and connectivity they crave. We're also driving the way brands interact with these fans - building a more impactful two-way channel of communication that will ultimately change the way we approach other parts of our business."