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
Hollywood’s Heartthrob Turns App Investor
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs since his performance in Titanic, and he has preserved his reputation as a worthy actor with other hit films such as Inception, The Departed and Catch Me If You Can. But DiCaprio is switching gears from show business—whether it be for a side gig or a change in career—by investing $4 million in the app Mobli.
Going off of the tagline, "See the world through other people’s eyes," Mobli is a social network where users can share photos and videos, and the app automatically tags each post with a location or major event in the surrounding area. Users can also follow channels that display photos about a particular topic, such as Leo himself.
Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg told The Huffington Post in October 2011 that Leo’s not much of a tech guy, but he is very excited to be involved in the marketing aspect of the app. “He believes in the vision of the company and thinks that this is the future of media. He wanted to get on board in the beginning, influence it, and give his input into the company.”