By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 0 Comments
Rewarding viewers for talking about TV around a virtual water cooler
What’s going to save TV in a world of new media options? Why, collecting stickers, of course. Networks are rushing to partner with GetGlue, a Web service mostly used by TV fans to “check in” and discuss their favourite shows, which lets people on other social media platforms know what they’re watching. But one of its other benefits is that when you check into a show a certain number of times, you get a sticker representing the show—and once you collect enough virtual stickers, you can send in for a bunch of real stickers in the mail. “It is a bit of a status symbol, collecting various stickers for various programs,” explains Paul Burns of Shaw Media, which announced a GetGlue partnership in March to promote shows like the cult hit Lost Girl. “It’s like a virtual baseball card.”
GetGlue, whose membership was recently estimated at 1.5 million, wasn’t supposed to be primarily about TV. Its founder, Alex Iskold, says it was “imagined as a social network for entertainment, connecting people around TV, movies, and more.” But it quickly became clear that television was dominating the site, and Iskold now says “the main benefit of GetGlue as it is today is connecting people around their favourite programs.”
Why is TV the perfect medium for GetGlue? Maybe because unlike movies, where—in theory—people aren’t allowed to use the Internet, people often expect to do other things while watching TV. If we’re not washing dishes, we may want to talk about the show as it happens. “There’s an element of real-time water cooler, an element of sharing,” Burns says. Even users who don’t want to discuss a show in depth can use GetGlue to announce to the world that they’re regular viewers.