If you think that audio/video recognition apps like Shazam, IntoNow and Get Glue were cool, this two month old app is going to knock your socks off. Viggle awards you points (which can then be exchanged for rewards) for “checking in” while watching TV events like sitcoms, awards shows and even advertisements. The app has created quite the hype among couch potatoes, who get something productive out of their TV viewing habits, and among TV enthusiasts, who get connected to a world of interest-based social networking options such as Facebook fan pages of their favorite shows, links of branded merchandise on Amazon, capability to chat with fellow fans and option to buy the shows or promotions on iTunes.
For others, the fact that a high frequency of check-ins is necessary to redeem points for rewards worth even five dollars may be a possible disincentive (though, at present, one does not have to watch the entire program to check-in and get points). But on the upside, participating businesses are legitimate and diverse (Starbucks, Foot Locker, Gap, Target, Sephora, Lowe’s, Fandango…to name a few), and attractive to consumers of every kind. And even if frequency is needed, how difficult is it to wave your iPhone in front of the screen each time something new comes on? Research shows that more than 80% of people have their phones with them while watching TV anyway.
Marketsmith gives Viggle two thumbs up for a great business model. There’s a small but solid incentive for consumers to use this app, and sponsors will come on board to take advantage of this incentivized audience and increase their show or spot viewership, or to get more customers into their stores. Its subscriber base has reached 200,000 in less than three months, each of who check-in at an average of 5.5 times a day. This instantaneous success is at least partially credited to one of the major investors, Robert F.X. Sillerman. He is a media entrepreneur with several broadcast and TV ventures in his portfolio (including a stake in American Idol), who used his connections to gain sponsorship from big-name retailers as soon as, or maybe even before, the app was launched. But even after the initial buzz dies down, the tons of data collected through the digital mechanism can be leveraged to keep sponsors interested. However, with deals and rewards coming in from many other avenues in the market, the bigger challenge will be keeping consumers interested and Viggling. It is that continuing relationship which will ultimately decide the app’s shelf life.
Viggle’s parent company Function(X) Inc. recently bought Loyalize, a B2B technology company that enables brands and content providers to interact with nationwide audiences during live TV shows through polls, trivia quizzes etc. – a move in the right direction on what seems like a very promising road to success.