Networks use social rewards

Television networks are now using social media and their websites to create rewards programs for viewers. NBC, ABC Family and USA Network have launched such programs since May.

All three networks have similar goals – to steer traffic to their websites and to encourage fans to post content about their favorite shows on social media portals.

“The whole viral aspect of Twitter and Facebook in syndicating and reposting the content is really a way to create brand ambassadors,” said Jesse Redniss, VP of digital at USA Network, which launched a rewards initiative for its Psych program last month.

In May, NBC launched its “Fan It” program, which rewards viewers who earn points by discussing shows on Facebook and Twitter or by commenting on articles on Consumers can win a walk-on role in the upcoming network series The Event, Emmy Awards red-carpet bleacher tickets and autographed items from shows.

ABC Family created a loyalty program in June for the series Pretty Little Liars. It enables consumers to redeem points, which can be earned through its website or by posting to social media sites, for virtual goods or access to exclusive videos, photos and other content.

USA’s “Character Rewards” program allows Psych fans to win show-branded merchandise and gift cards in exchange for viewing online content or reposting items to Facebook and Twitter. The network is planning to extend the program to all of its series over the next year. USA also raised awareness of the initiative by e-mailing consumers in its database, as well as the databases of its sister NBC Universal networks, and by using Facebook and Twitter.

The concept isn’t entirely new. The Big Ten Network, the sports TV channel run by the collegiate athletic league of the same name, has rewarded participants of its “Superfans” program since 2007 for watching online videos and playing games.

“I think it’s a great thing for a television network to do because TV is a passive medium,” said Erin Harvego, the Big Ten Network’s VP of marketing. “We call it a lean-back entertainment forum, where you watch the program passively. What we wanted to do with the Big Ten Network was to make it very interactive with our viewers.”

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