August 10, 2010

Social TV Check-Ins, Rewards and "Buy Now" Buttons

Television networks are now using social media and their websites to create rewards programs for viewers. NBC, ABC Family and USA Network have launched such programs since May.

All three networks have similar goals – to steer traffic to their websites and to encourage fans to post content about their favorite shows on social media portals.

In May, NBC launched its “Fan It” program, which rewards viewers who earn points by discussing shows on Facebook and Twitter or by commenting on articles on Consumers can win a walk-on role in the upcoming network series The Event, Emmy Awards red-carpet bleacher tickets and autographed items from shows.

ABC Family created a loyalty program in June for the series Pretty Little Liars. It enables consumers to redeem points, which can be earned through its website or by posting to social media sites, for virtual goods or access to exclusive videos, photos and other content.

USA's “Character Rewards” program allows Psych fans to win show-branded merchandise and gift cards in exchange for viewing online content or reposting items to Facebook and Twitter. The network is planning to extend the program to all of its series over the next year. USA also raised awareness of the initiative by e-mailing consumers in its database, as well as the databases of its sister NBC Universal networks, and by using Facebook and Twitter.

Networks are clamoring to take part in the television show checkin trend too.

AdaptiveBlue CEO Alex Iskold confidently reports that GetGlue is “working with over a dozen top entertainment brands including HBO, Showtime, PBS, Random House, Penguin, Universal, Warner Bros, and more.” Networks not only see value in checkin data but opportunity in checkin behavior.

For instance, when it came to the season finale of The Bachelorette, Philo was able to pinpoint exactly when engagement levels spiked on the service and ascertain that audiences appreciated Ally’s decision to break with the formulaic nature of finale show.

Of course, networks are also interested because they see an opportunity to truly engage viewers and create a cycle that keeps audiences tuning in each week. The ultimate end game is to boost ratings, and apps like Miso, GetGlue and Philo have the potential to help them do just that.

As this shift continues to gather pace, one can expect that Google TV, Best Buy, Amazon, Apple TV, YouTube, Paypal, Project Canvas, Delivery Agent, EDS, Canoe Ventures and others will all participate in the race to help make instant transactions "in-program" possible.

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