Only months ago, smartphone users were introduced to the idea of watching TV for rewards. We just hopped in front of our TVs, checked in, and let the points accumulate to numbers with varying amounts of commas. From Burger King, JC Penny’s, and iTunes, to Caribbean cruises and Apple TV – all which could be gained through Viggle, the app that made it all possible – these points were earning us real virtual dollars. And all it took was extra time spent vegging on the couch.

In what I call the former glory days – the first three or four months that the app was released – TV watching was fantastic. Viggle commercials were regularly shown for points, sports had player bonuses, and trivia or ad quizzes ruled my phone’s feed. Shows were 300 and 400 points each, and many had a play along bonus, providing extra points even when questions were answered wrong. Further, prizes worth $10 took only 14k points, which could easily be reached within a week.

The Viggle Dust Bowl

Then inflation happened. And reward requirements jumped greatly. What once cost 14,000 points then cost 19,000. Next good rewards (Amazon and iTunes) began disappearing. For one depressing week after the Olympics, one could only earn specified coupons, forcing you to spend far more then you’d save. Shows dropped in points value, commercials were viewed for entertainment only, and trivia points were slashed, if offered at all.

Viggle, then, thinking they’d pulled the wool over our eyes, reintroduced the prizes at an even higher price.

This post-Olympic drought has eased somewhat, but shows are still offered at a measly 50 points, and commercials for points are a rare treat.

The Conclusion

Although users are given no insider info as to how these rewards are paid for or at what benefit checking in provides, one can assume it’s having their entire TV viewing schedule Big Brothered by TV networks and marketing companies.

There’s no doubt that Viggle is constantly checking its bottom line, regulating how many points are given vs. how many rewards could be cashed in on any moment. And I get it, there’s no model for this type of business plan. They have to get ahead again before they can offer more points. However, I wish they’d have gotten their math skills under control before offering their customers a taste of just how good getting something for nothing can be.

Watching TV will never be the same.

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