Viggle's Consiglio on straddling second screen, social media worlds

with Greg Consiglio, President & COO, Viggle

Greg Consiglio, Viggle

Consiglio (Image source: Viggle)

It's possible that Viggle will follow the TiVo example and go from a noun to a verb as in, "Did you Viggle that program?" For now, though, President and COO Greg Consiglio is focused on expanding Viggle's profile as a second screen app that is also a social app and a rewards program for 2 million-plus subscribers using broadband connected devices linked to pay-TV service providers.

Consiglio conversed with FierceIPTV editor Jim Barthold about what it means to Viggle and what service providers, programmers and advertisers get from the service.

FierceIPTV: Let's start with an easy one. How do you define Viggle?

Greg Consiglio: We think Viggle is Viggle. It means getting enhancements around media that you consume and getting rewarded for the time you spend consuming. I don't think of us just as a social TV application; I don't like to think of us just as a second screen application; I like to think of us as loyalty around media starting with television. It's not just about social and it's not just about points. It's about experience and discovery and making TV more rewarding.

FierceIPTV: To use Viggle you call up the app on your connected device, tap the screen and point it at your TV. It then comes back and tells you what you're watching and what points you can and have received. How do you make that happen?

Consiglio: It's magic.

FierceIPTV: I hear that a lot.

Consiglio: Seriously, we ingest anywhere from 170 to 200 cable channels through a live signal 24/7. We create a unique digital fingerprint of the sound that's coming in then put the fingerprint into a database that creates a unique record of that show coming in over-the-air. It takes a one second sample of that audio file, creates another matching algorithm with an audio fingerprint then sends that fingerprint to our database which looks for a match. When we hit a match we know you're watching a certain channel on a certain provider in a certain market. We then get a listing from Tribune, which tells us what you're watching and puts you on the clock to start earning Viggle points. Then we send down a show page that is an experience for that show and anything that is enhanced--like extra point advertising to watch, quiz games or play along sports--starts to show up in the app. This process works wherever you log in and with whatever carrier because it goes to a second tier if you're not at home and on your provider.

FierceIPTV: How do you make your money?

Consiglio: We are supported by brand advertisers who are either amplifying an existing TV sponsorship and capturing people when they check into those shows on Viggle or running (second screen ads) across the Viggle platform. Secondly, it's tune-in dollars and marketing dollars from TV networks that want to let people know about a new show that's coming out or to keep people engaged (with a show) throughout a season.

FierceIPTV: What kind of information do you give those guys?

Consiglio: We know how many people are audio-verified into a given show on a given night. We know how long people are engaged. We know how many people are active on the platform on a monthly basis and on a nightly basis. Our competitors talk about downloads but we show registered users, active users and monthly active users and have some pretty great statistics on a month-by-month basis.

FierceIPTV: DVR viewing also earns points. Doesn't that defeat the desire for live check-in information for advertisers?

Consiglio: Programmers are interested in the changing behavior that's happened over the past few years, the time shift. The reality is that the vast majority of people watch live television. Our goal is to reward people for watching TV, to make TV a more rewarding experience so you'll have opportunities to earn more Viggle points through incentives if you watch it live than if you're watching DVR.

FierceIPTV: Where do rewards come from and who pays for them?

Consiglio: It's case-by-case. Our retail partners are also advertisers. In some cases, we purchase rewards; in other cases they are contributed; in other cases they are bartered; in other cases people pay us. We also let people push offers and rewards down through e-mail. There are a lot of different models we've been using.

FierceIPTV: You have a partnership relationship with DirecTV whose subscribers get bonus points. Do other cable and telco service providers give you heat about this?

Consiglio: There's no issue there. We've worked with others as well. They've advertised on the platform, whether it's U-verse or Comcast. They've advertised their products and services as well. And we have a number of partnerships coming up so you'll hear some announcements in the next 30 days or so.

FierceIPTV: Besides partnerships, what else is in store for Viggle? Right now all your programming connections are national broadcast and cable networks. Are you looking local?

Consiglio: We had to make a decision as to how many channels to offer against and that meant 170 to 200 channels mostly prime time and weekend. We could go much further and ingest channels at the very hyper local level and … we're looking at that. I think over time you'll see us do more on the local space but we decided our use case for the first year or so was to make it more about prime time and weekend. If users tell us that they want to engage around local programming we'll build applications that allow that to happen.

FierceIPTV: A merger you announced with another social TV/second screen app Get Glue ended up not happening. Are you still in the market to partner with someone or just happy going it alone?

Consiglio: As a public company, we don't speculate on that kind of stuff.

FierceIPTV: Can you speculate on where Viggle is going in a more general sense?

Consiglio: Our business requires that we have subscribers that we keep and monetize. We started a national advertising campaign to let people know about it a couple weeks ago. For us, it's getting the word out, getting users to try us, stay with us, love us and monetizing that through our advertising partners.

FierceIPTV: What can you tell advertisers, programmers and even service providers about Vigglers?

Consiglio: We have 56 minutes on average per session that people are engaged in the app. Close to 20 percent of our users are using the app 20 days or more a month and the average person uses the app about nine or 10 days. Those are strong statistics. I don't know who you can go to in our industry on second screen or on television and find anyone who has that kind of usage. It's been quite an interesting ride. We're 14 months into it and we're just getting started but I don't think anybody has the kind of usage that we have.

Viggle's Consiglio on straddling second screen, social media worlds