Last night I was browsing the “Featured” tab on the App Store on my iPhone and came across an interesting new app called “Viggle,” which promised to reward me with fabulous prizes for watching TV. Now, I watch my fair share of TV, so naturally this proposition intrigued me.
Basically, the service asks you to “check in” when you are watching a TV show, similar to GetGlue or IntoNow. The difference is that with Viggle, you get 2 points every minute that you’re “watching” TV. When you’ve collected enough rewards points, you can redeem them for things like Amazon, Best Buy, Sephora gift cards or a month of Hulu Plus service.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Yes and no. The “prices” of the rewards are high enough that you can’t really quit your day job and watch TV all day. A $5 gift card to Starbucks or Best Buy costs 7,500 points, which equates to 62.5 hours of TV watching. There are other ways to gain points, the most significant of which is by checking into “Featured” shows. Being checked into Glee nets you an extra 325 points, for example. You can also get scattered bonus points here and there for setting reminders to watch shows, answering trivia questions, or watching video advertisements. Many people have already reported redemption of the rewards, so at least Viggle is coming through on their end of the bargain as of now.
The biggest problem I had with the service is that the audio detection simply doesn’t work. I tried sticking my phone next to both my TV speakers for an episode of Family guy and next to my iPad streaming an episode of 30 Rock and neither would register on Viggle in four attempts. After two failed attempts, Viggle will give you the option of manually checking into a show. The catch is that you can only manually check into programming that is currently on “live” TV. (Viggle asks you for your cable provider in order to offer you options) I managed to “check in” to Jimmy Fallon’s show even though I wasn’t watching.
This got my gaming mind thinking. Since there’s a cap of 120 points per hour (you don’t get extra points for channel flipping), your best bet at points generation is to make sure you are always checked into a show. You can do this even if you aren’t near a TV by failing the app into letting you check into something manually. It’s a pretty silly busywork task to have to open an app on your phone and do some taps every hour or so to generate points, but it’s really no different than checking in to harvest your plants in FarmVille or opening a new floor in your Tiny Tower. To take the freemium game analogy further, earning bonus points by “watching” a video advertisement is basically the same thing as watching a progress bar as your Sim goes poop. There’s even rewards for opening Viggle at the right time (bonus points for checking into a featured show).
Granted, having a random list of checked in shows may not be as appealing an end result as a flourishing TinyZoo with Panda Bears, but I’d wager that getting gift cards to real stores is probably a good piece of compensation for that. I think that if I’m ever feeling bored enough to want to do some tapping on my phone, getting some more Viggle points may be in my future.
Since Viggle’s website has nothing but a link to their iTunes page, if you want more details on the service, checking out their Twitter feed is probably your best bet. The service says they are working on both Android and iPad versions of their app for release “soon.”