Viggle Trying to Find Its Way in the Rapidly Changing Media Scene

There is a tyranny of choice when it comes to entertainment, says Viggle president and COO Greg Consiglio, and that compelled his company to think about working with much more than television.

New York-based Viggle (Nasdaq: VGGL) developed an app and software for giving audience rewards from advertisers and broadcasters for showing their interest in various media and content. If users indicate with Viggle that they are watching a show, they can earn points towards some sort of perk or benefit.

Developers of other apps and websites can use Viggle’s application program interface, Consiglio says, to dole out points for such actions as watching original videos on the Web, or TV shows on a network’s site.

Television was the company’s early go-to focus, and now Viggle is considering how it can expand even further outside its original comfort zone, says Consiglio. “How do we get into location services?” he asks. “How do we utilize GPS or beacons?”

But the company also wants to use its understanding of and data on audience behavior in different ways. “Our goal is to create your entertainment fingerprint,” Consiglio says. In addition to monitoring television viewing habits, Viggle’s app already has a feature that works like Shazam, he says, to identify the music people listen to. Viggle also makes recommendations to its users based on content they like.

That understanding of audience tastes could go further if Viggle follows through on Consiglio’s desire to take on live sports and concerts.

The company has been busy growing, buying up other companies in a relatively short time. Viggle last year acquired Dijit in San Francisco, meshing Viggle’s rewards program with Dijit’s television guide and discovery app.  In the year prior, Viggle acquired Seattle-based celeb news site Wetpaint. Late last month, Viggle also built up its war chest a bit more, closing a public offering of common stock that raised $9.07 million in gross proceeds.

Viggle has taken some lumps along the way as it tries to scale and make money. Though its debut on Nasdaq in 2014 was priced at $8 per share, Viggle shares closed at $2.15 per on Monday.

Part of what prompted some of the latest moves at Viggle is the evolution of how people find and consume media. “TV is being redefined,” Consiglio says. “When we started the company, it was all about appointment TV viewing.”

That changed with more people watching what they want, when they want thanks to the proliferation of DVRs, he says. “The consumer is really in control.”

Furthermore, the public is watching more original video on the Web, and over-the-top content from services such as Sling TV, Crackle, and Netflix. “A whole generation is seeing TV differently,” Consiglio says, “watching video on tablets. That makes it harder for those who develop content to get in front of the right audience at the right time.”

The basic idea behind Viggle, he says, was to drive attention to television programs by giving viewers incentives for checking out new shows, as well as for sticking with shows throughout their seasons. The company soon saw it was gaining traction not just for shows, but for the targeted advertising in videos on mobile devices based on TV viewing habits. That opened the door for new possibilities for the company. “We thought, perhaps we could be more of an entertainment marketing platform than a rewards platform for consumers,” Consiglio says.

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