Tuning in with Viggle: The Second-Screen App that Rewards Couch Potatoes
The Viggle app is a loyalty program for couch potatoes, giving its users real rewards for checking into their favorite TV shows. Seriously—all hail technology!
Whether it’s a Starbucks gift card, a cool new set of speakers or a Hulu Plus subscription, Viggle’s shelling out some awesome rewards for our TV show check-ins. And we like to check in with Viggle. The second-screen app lets you view social feeds from fellow fans of the show you’re watching, plus you can participate in real-time polls and voting related to a show.
What’s the company behind this ingenious app like? When Viggle released their iPhone version early this year, it banked more than 150,000 downloads in less than a month. Taking that momentum, Viggle acquired social TV start-up Loyalize in February, using its audience-engagement technology at the 2012 Grammys.
And then in June, Viggle released its Android version after a beta trial period. We caught up with Viggle’s lead developer Colin Prepscius to talk about what it was like developing the Android version of the app. Prepscius also hints at trends within the second-screen experience realm that Viggle lives in, as well as the new updates Viggle has up its sleeve.
- What was it like creating the Android version of Viggle?
We had always planned to move Viggle onto Android as soon as we got the iOS version out the door. It took several months to develop Viggle for Android, and then we ran a public beta [from May to June] to help with testing.
Developing for Android can be difficult, but it’s also pretty fun. It was challenging to make the app look good on all of the different Android screen sizes and to optimize performance across all the different handsets. We also wanted the app to have a consistent look and feel on both platforms. We actually learned more from the Android public-beta-testing program than from iOS users’ feedback.
- How has Viggle evolved since its launch, both as a company and as an app?
We’re adding new features and games to make the app more engaging and to enhance the TV viewing experience. Viggle LIVE resulted from our acquisition of Loyalize and is a program of real-time questions, voting and polls that is in sync with what Viggle users are watching.
MyGuy is the most recent addition—it’s a new take on fantasy sports. If you check into a sports game, myGuy knows which teams are playing and allows you to pick a player to be “your guy” for the game. The better your player does, the more Viggle points you get as a result.
Viggle as a company hasn’t changed a bit. We all work really hard and move fast. Rather than have a rigid development process, we make sure we’re all clear on objectives and then run with our own pieces, checking in regularly.
- What is your favorite Viggle feature, and why?
Viggle Live. It’s cool to play along in real time, and it just makes what you’re watching that much better. I check into sports, especially big soccer matches, most often.
- Discuss second-screen experiences. While Viggle is clearly capitalizing on this hot trend, in what ways do you think TV viewers will begin to head to their smartphone and tablet screens more often?
A lot of TV networks and show producers are creating their own apps. While a lot of these apps are awesome, I don’t think people are going to tolerate having a different app for every show they’re watching.
We designed Viggle as a platform so all these apps can run within one environment. I think this is going to become more and more important for TV viewers. I also think TV viewers are starting to make it clear that they want to do more than just feed their social media stream with their activity; they also want to get something back for what they’re doing.
You get loyalty points for renting cars and flying. Why shouldn’t you get them for watching TV?!
- What’s in store for Viggle?
We’re working on a tablet-specific version and are looking at other platforms like Windows Phone and Blackberry. We’re going to give users more to do in the app, and we’ve got some more tricks up our sleeves to enhance the TV viewing experience.
As a developer, what are some companies, developers or products that inspire you, and why?
Apple for one. They design the future and give us all part of it, and they’re so certain of their own ability.
SpaceX for another, for out-of-this-world coolness and audacity.
Apps I Love
Eating Healthy is a Snap with Dr. Oz’s App Pick
Photo credit: Getty Images
Dr. Mehmet Oz, famous cardiac surgeon and star of TV’s The Dr. Oz Show, spends much of his time giving nutritional guidance to his show’s viewers and patients. But we bet he never thought advice could get as simple as “take a picture of your food.”
Dr. Oz told USA TODAY that he likes the Meal Snap app. Just use your smartphone to take a photo of your food in front of you, and the app calculates how many calories you’re consuming. Bam—food recording is done.
Of course, the app is not always 100 percent accurate, but we still think the simple act of recording our food helps us be more conscious of what we’re eating. You can share your meals on Twitter, Facebook and foursquare if you want some extra motivation, and you can even view your eating patterns over time.