If you’re oblivious to apps like Viggle and GetGlue and how they’ve enhanced the TV-viewing experience, then 2013 may be the year you explore these options and more. Although “Social TV” has long been a buzzword for social media whizzes, these apps will transform the way we watch TV in the future.

The majority of the top networks have embraced social media to improve the overall TV-viewing experience, and over the past year we’ve seen plenty in the intersection of TV and social media. Social-TV app Viggle nearly merged with competitor GetGlue for $70 million. Nielsen acquired SocialGuide, while Twitter acquired Bluefin Labs to help analyze the relationship between social and TV. Yahoo! and Facebook have evaluated related avenues, while apps like Miso and Zeebox continue to evolve.

Social networking is the biggest driver in multi-screen viewership in the United States. According to Nielsen, more than 85 percent of Americans watch TV and use their smartphones simultaneously. Tablets and PCs are well within reach too.

As startups in social TV continue to establish themselves, more brands, advertisers and networks will sign on to drive engagement and interaction.

Here’s a look at some of the major apps and competitors that make up the social-TV landscape:


Viggle banner

Boasting the slogan “Now TV Loves You Back,” Viggle lets users check in to their favorite entertainment on TV, including shows, events and professional sports. Vigglers earn points that they can redeem later for rewards and merchandise, such as a Kindle Fire HD or gift cards to McDonalds, Starbucks or Gap. You can also use your points to make charitable donations.

Users verify the TV show, movie, or event they’re watching by using sound recognition. If the audio check in fails three times in a row, the app lets you search for the show you’re watching and manually check in. You’re awarded a point per minute for each show that you watch, and Viggle assumes that you watch each show for its entire duration.

Viggle rewards 50 to 100 bonus points for your everyday shows (i.e., American Idol, Psych, Duck Dynasty). Viggle also handsomely rewards users for tuning in to an entire series or event, such as The History Channel’s The Bible, and the March Madness NCAA Tournament, which nets you 1,000 bonus points for checking in to at least one game on each of the 10 days of the tournament.

In addition, Viggle has a partnership with DIRECTV, so DIRECTV customers who use Viggle get exclusive rewards and bonus points.

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Viggle has its own TV guide. It lets you know which shows have featured bonuses, and it allows you to set reminders within the app. But Viggle is much more than a Foursquare for TV. Viggle LIVE keeps you engaged with real-time quizzes, trivia and voting. MYGUY Fantasy Sports gives you the opportunity to score added points during sporting events as well. Also, after you check in to a show, you’ll find links to the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, a TV chat feature and other in-depth information about the show and cast members.

First glance: Unlike Foursquare (for the most part), Instagram and various video-sharing apps, Viggle actually enhances what you’re already doing—watching TV. We all watch TV, and lots of it. Viggle is a platform to earn rewards for your viewing habits while generating discussion and helping you interact with your favorite shows and characters.

The second-screen app announced in January that its 1.8 million users registered 151 million check-ins and counting. Viggle announced this past fall that it was buying competitor GetGlue (which I’ll get to next) for $70 million, but the deal fell through earlier this year.


Although GetGlue did not merge with Viggle, it plans to move forward as one of the leaders in social TV. GetGlue aims to create “a deeply personalized social and connected experience around television, movies and sports.”

GetGlue banner

Unlike Viggle, you can check in without sound recognition, right from the website or mobile app. Your personalized guide gives you recommendations for live TV, streaming and movies in theaters. GetGlue also provides TV fanatics with a platform to interact with friends and to engage with content from shows and sporting events.

Your GetGlue Feed is a mix between Instagram and Facebook. It’s where you can find personalized photos, videos and comments from your favorite shows, as well as your friends’ recent activity. Your feed is personalized from past check-ins. You can also “like” shows in your own personalized GetGlue Guide.

GetGlue screenshot

Source: The Next Web

According to The Next Web, GetGlue added promoted entries for the Super Bowl and rewarded users with stickers for checking in (much like Foursquare badges). I mean, who doesn’t like stickers? (slight sarcasm). GetGlue recently added expanded tweets, so users can get straight from Twitter more information about what shows fellow GetGlue users are watching.

First glance: Aside from the reward points, GetGlue is very similar to Viggle in the sense that it promotes personalized TV viewing and provides a platform for users to interact while watching their favorite shows. While it’s up against stiff competition (Viggle, Twitter, etc.), GetGlue is very popular, and it has legs as long as people are passionate about TV.

Facebook and TV check in

Facebook is already a player in influencing the way we watch TV. According to a Nielsen survey, 46 percent of TV viewers said they started watching a show because they read about it on Facebook, compared to just 14 percent on Twitter.

Facebook social TV

The Next Web’s Robin Wauters speculated Facebook could integrate in the near future a TV check in feature. She noted Facebook is experimenting with more visual updates by using emoticons and images (like TVs).

“It would conveniently tie in perfectly with Facebook’s Social Graph and Graph Search,” Wauters wrote. “Making it visually appealing, and thus having such a status stand out in a friend’s newsfeed, only adds to the potential power of a proper Facebook TV check-in feature.”

With the power of Graph Search, Wauters added, Facebook would have at its disposal a wealth of social TV data for advertisers and brands alike.

On Wednesday Netflix introduced Netflix Social, which links with Facebook to let members share what they’re watching and also benefit from their friends’ recommendations.

BlueFin Labs joins Twitter

Although Twitter doesn’t influence viewership as much as Facebook, Twitter is a clear driver in social TV. In February Twitter acquired Bluefin Labs, a TV analytics company, to help develop the relationship between Twitter, TV, advertising, and the consumer experience.

The announcement came just a couple months after Nielsen agreed to partner with Twitter to create a new ratings metric based specifically on Twitter data. Frankly, Twitter is perfect for TV: it’s quick and instantaneous, and it doesn’t get in the way of watching your favorite program.

As an avid sports fan, I’m constantly on Twitter looking for the latest breaking news before, during and after games. While attending live events, I oftentimes find myself paying more attention to my Twitter timeline than the game.

It’s certainly a powerful tool for marketers and brands too, and now with plenty of data, Twitter is a huge platform for brands, networks and viewers to interact on a daily basis.