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Can Viggle become FourSquare for television?

For as long as their have been smartphones there have been companies trying to figure out how to get that second screen experience on a mobile device to be able to support and create revenue for everyone’s first screen – their television. I recently start playing around with Viggle which is the latest company to try to solve this problem and it is the most interesting platform I have seen yet.

Unlike with apps like GetGlue where can just check-in to a TV show to get stickers, Viggle uses a Shazaam style interaction where you hit check-in and the app will listen to the audio from your TV to identify the show you are watching. This is a key difference from a business perspective because there is an actual verification that you are watching the show in real-time and that is a much more valuable way to approach the problem for advertisers and sponsors. Those sponsors and advertisers try to influence the shows you are watching by offering bonus points for featured shows in an attempt to get you to tune in and this approach since you get one point per minute of viewing so a 300 point bonus quickly becomes appealing. Once you have checked in to a show there are often opportunities to earn even more bonus points advertising sponsored quizzes and experiences for various brands. There is social media integration through the ability to check-in through traditional social media channels or see what is being said about the show you are watching by other people all through the app. There are also additional links to see the Wikipedia page, buy merchandise on iTunes or Amazon or even special saving on show related merchandise on certain shows.

As a designer I can see how this is a solid business model with a lot of hooks to be able generate revenue through the app. As a marketer I can see a problem with the platform because viewers can  game the system to get points so the value of a check-in may not be as high as I would really hope it could be.  An example of how you can game the system is that I wanted to watch Monday Night Football but I saw I could get 100 points for NBC’s new show Revolution. To get the best of both world’s I checked into Revolution then flipped back to watch the football until halftime when I flipped back to check into Revolution again and grabbed the 100 points for watching just 30 seconds of that show.

I think that in spite of the potential quality problems of a check-in through this platform I think it is one of the best approaches to solve the problem. They have DirecTV on board which gives them needed exposure but it will be interesting to see if it can really find traction in the near future with general public.

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