Earlier this month Bob Sillerman’s Function(x) announced another acquisition related to its pending mobile media business ventures. Now the company is set to launch its first product.
Viggle is being called the “first ever loyalty program for television.” Viggle, which will be available initially as a free download in the iTunes App Store, awards its users points for checking into TV shows. Points can be redeemed within the app for dozens of rewards from companies such as Burger King, Sephora, Fandango and the Hulu Plus subscription service or converted into charitable donations.
“Watch TV, Get Rewards. Viggle is a simple idea that will transform the television viewing experience,” said Chris Stephenson, president of Function(x). “People love TV, and for the first time, they are getting rewarded not only for their loyalty, but also for checking out new shows. We think viewers will love it – as will networks and brands.”
Viggle works with live, recorded and online TV content from more than 100 channels today and more are being added daily. Shows with check-in bonuses are featured in the “What’s On” section, where people are also able to set reminders and “like” shows. Viggle curates all of the Twitter discussions related to each television show, its cast and crew in the “Chatter” section. People are able to link Viggle to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, making it easy for users to post comments directly to these social networks. Vibrant, behind-the-scenes experiences and access to unique footage and bonus offers are all part of the Viggle experience.
“TV check-in applications have not yet proven that they can move audiences who just want to sit and watch,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group. “Rewards have worked in the past to motivate people to change their behavior and Viggle’s focus on real rewards may be the critical difference that drives TV audiences to participate.”
In addition to more than 100 channels that Viggle works with automatically, the company is collaborating on show-specific engagements with a variety of networks, cable and production companies. With the ability to engage viewers with unique content, real-time polls and quizzes, and reward them for their loyalty to shows, Viggle represents a unique opportunity to help increase network ratings.
“We look forward to providing a platform and service for our network partners to build their own second screen experiences,” said Janet Scardino, CEO of Function(x). “Our vision is for Viggle to become a broad currency for loyalty across all TV and we’re excited about helping networks drive audience tune-in and engagement”.
The free Viggle app will soon be available in the US for download through the iTunes App Store for all iOS devices. Special versions for iPad, Android and the Web will follow shortly.
RBR-TVBR observation: There have certainly been TV viewership loyalty programs before, so calling this the “first ever” is an overstatement. But this first product from Function(x) is creatively aimed at bringing the concept to the mobile age.