Whilst sitting on your couch watching an episode of your favourite TV show, have you ever found yourself engaging in a rapid messaging conversation with a friend who happens to be watching the same TV show? If so, there are two things you should know about yourself: 1. You are a very big fan of the show and 2. You are the ideal consumer of entertainment-based check-in apps.
The rise of location-based check-in services such as Foursquare and Gowalla have caused many companies to begin engaging with consumers on a different level. Early adopters of these services were able to reward consumers for certain types of behaviours that had a positive effect on the company's brand (e.g. Starbucks giving away a free Coffee for Foursquare Mayors). Now, as location-based services are entering the mainstream (most recently becoming a part of University orientation programs), I think they are becoming a model for a new type of consumer engagement.
Although television is still considered to be a traditional medium, an increasing number of TV shows and channels have started to adopt non-traditional methods of attracting (and retaining) audiences. Facebook pages, Twitter handles and highly interactive websites are just some of the ways TV shows are trying to stay relevant to fans. In addition to these methods, some shows and channels have recently adopted a method that I believe has the most promise... the TV check-in. Applications such as Philo, Miso, Tunerfish and GetGlue are now allowing consumers to experience TV shows on a more social level. These apps make it possible for consumers to share thoughts on TV shows with their friends in real-time and in some cases, get rewarded for doing so.
Why do I believe this method of consumer engagement has the most promise for TV shows? It's simple and I have primarily have Seth Godin to thank for this answer.. these apps help build tribes. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, if you are constantly conversing with friends about the show, odds are you are a loyal fan. These apps will help to nurture loyal fans and provide them with a way to connect to shows on a deeper level. I think the action of checking-in to anything is a confession on the part of a consumer revealing two things: 1. I am interested in what you (the company/the brand/the TV show) have to say and 2. I want my friends to know that I am. I expect that many companies have already figured this out and soon we will begin to see more TV shows releasing apps that allow for loyal fans to become more engaged.
Another interesting idea this new model brings up is how it is going to affect TV ratings. Will ratings in the future be determined by the amount of people that check-in to a TV show and tweet about what's going on? Will the scripts of TV shows be altered based on what people 'like' about certain mini-plots? Will TV shows that aren't shown on primetime have a better chance of developing a loyal following? I think the next few months may bring some answers. We'll just have to tune/check in and see.
Final Thought: No longer will watching Glee on a Tuesday night just be a one-way relationship between you and your TV, it will instead be a time for all the Gleeks around the world to virtually gather and sing sweet harmonies in unison.