Product offers incentives for TV loyalty

Imagine being able to earn rewards to places such as Burger King and Starbucks simply by sitting down and watching TV.

Imagine being able to earn rewards to places such as Burger King and Starbucks simply by sitting down and watching TV.

That's what New York-based company Function(x) is attempting to accomplish with its latest app, Viggle. The mobile app will make its debut for Apple iOS products later this month, with Android availability to follow.

It's described by AdAge as a loyalty program for TV, which mixes aspects of foursqaure and Shazam's audio recognition to create a never-before-seen program.

It works by providing users with "check-in bonuses" for watching shows at certain times. People can check Viggle when they sit down to watch TV to determine which shows have the most "social buzz," which can help them earn the most rewards for watching.

If it works, it may have vast implications on networks' viewership, as those that partner with Viggle are likely to receive a more active audience and customer loyalty and satisfaction.

After a certain period of time (or a certain amount of points gained for checking in), users can redeem points for gift cards to popular stores and services such as the aforementioned Burger King and Starbucks, as well as Sephora, Fandango and Hulu Plus, amongst others.

"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 also plans to integrate social media by allowing users to link the app to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and post comments directly to the networks. Viggle also plans to "curate" Twitter discussions related to TV shows it's providing incentives for.

"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."

At launch, Function(x) plans to include about 100 channels, with more to come in the future. The app will be available initially for free at the iTunes App Store.