Viggle: The Dual-Threat Social Television Application

By Adam Kossoff

The adjective “dual threat” is commonly used in sports, reserved for an athlete who possesses a number of different strengths; one who competes and plays at a completely higher level. In the competitive environment of social television, Viggle is that dual-threat application that gives its competitors nightmares.

When I first read about the release of Viggle, I was a little skeptical. I’ve used GetGlue and IntoNow, read about other social television applications, and just wasn’t a huge fan. For a number of reasons, from limited features, a lack of incentive to check in, and small user bases, it really never dawned on me that I could launch applications while watching TV. I was initially under the impression that Viggle was no different, but after two weeks of use, I’m absolutely hooked.

In short, Viggle describes itself as “a loyalty program for television that gives people real rewards for checking into the television shows they’re watching.” Like other second screen applications, Viggle allows people to engage with their TV watching experience and share about it with friends on their social networks. In addition to the app’s regular programming, Viggle’s pushed other interactive games and experiences – Viggle Live during the Grammys and Viggle Bowl during the Super Bowl – to offer fans additional opportunities to earn more rewards, which in turn, allows advertisers further reach.

For a new iOS application, Viggle has disclosed some very impressive usage numbers. In less than two weeks of its launch in the App Store Viggle had over 140,000 download, accounting for 1.4 million check-ins and over 10 million total engagements. While people are just beginning to take notice of this new entrant in social television, it’s the experience for both the user and advertisers that make it such a dual threat. I’ve broken down Viggle’s “dual threat” aspects down below:

Check-In

User
Whether you want to earn points, tell your friends what you’re watching, or just keep a running log of what you’ve watched for yourself, Viggle makes it easy to check into a show. All you have to do is click “check in”,  hold your phone up to the TV, and in less than 10 seconds it identifies the live show you’re watching. If it can’t identify a show by second try, you can manually search and enter the program yourself. If you’re in a room with a lot of background noise, you’ll still get credited for watching anything.

Advertiser/TV Network
Brands and TV Networks can better target advertisements to specific demographics based on information culled from user check-ins. For example, whenever I check into ESPN’s SportsCenter, I’m offered more points if I choose to watch a Gatorade ad. When I check into a Bravo show, I’m prompted to watch a trailer for a new Bravo reality show. It’s easy for an ad to resonate and capture a user’s attention, which leads to a greater ROI when you reach your target market and in some cases, fans of your product.

 

Rewards

User
Viggle awards points for certain actions: you get points for checking in, watching ads, referring friends who sign up, sharing check-ins on Twitter or Facebook, and playing games. The points are redeemable in the “Rewards” section where 7,500 points can get you a $5 Starbucks Gift Card, or 100,000 points can be cashed in for an iPod shuffle. The more time you spend watching a show, the more points you earn (so you can’t earn extra points for checking into 10 shows in 10 minutes). While there are probably ways to “cheat the system,” overall Viggle’s done a good job of preventing as much as they can.

Advertiser
When a user enters the Rewards section, they are welcomed by an eye pleasing, easy to navigate list of all possible rewards. For a small company who wants exposure, or a large company who wants more impressions, it’s a great chance to capture a user’s attention. As I use Viggle and continue to accumulate more points, I have a tendency to revisit the Rewards page, and now easily recall a handful of brands that are offering prizes.


Viggle Live

User
For major television events, Viggle has rolled out interactive games and experiences that bring value to users who follow along with the application. During my live watch of the Grammys with Viggle Live, I learned new facts from trivia questions, earned points by predicting the winners, and gave my opinion on what I thought of the performances. I could also see what others were doing either through a percentage of how many people left a certain answer to a question, or from watching people’s opinion of a performance in real-time.

Advertiser/TV Network
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to DVR the program and catch up later without any commercials. With Viggle asking questions in real-time about the on goings at the awards show and commercials, I was willingly “forced” to watch the show, beginning to end, with no breaks. Viggle also did a nice job with their presenting sponsor, Bing, by integrating the search engine with the game questions during the Grammys.

It’s anyone’s guess who will prevail as the leader in social television. With the release of an Android compatible version next month, it’ll be interesting to see if Viggle can continue their explosive growth throughout the rest of the year. In an industry that’s becoming saturated with new applications everyday and already established players with larger user bases investing heavily in new technology and partnerships, Viggle has their work cut out for them. Even with the momentum they’ve built, everything is up for grabs. As long as Viggle stays true to its goal of becoming the “definitive global loyalty program for entertainment,” I’m betting on them to someday become an essential application on everyone’s mobile device.