Social promotion: GetGlue encourages viewers to tune in live to see events like TV host Conan O’Brien getting his beard shaved by comedian Will Ferrell.
GetGlue is a social network for fans of TV programs, music albums, and other entertainment. People watching a show or listening to an album can “check in” to it on GetGlue the way users of Foursquare might record their presence in a coffee shop. GetGlue can use those check-ins, and the check-ins of friends, to recommend other content. Users can also get rewards such as souvenir stickers. Run by the New York-based startup Adaptive Blue, GetGlue was launched in 2009 and recently passed one million users, recording 55 percent more check-ins in April than in March.
According to Adaptive Blue founder Alex Iskold, the turning point was the release of GetGlue’s iPhone app last summer; currently, 70 percent of check-ins come from mobile devices. GetGlue also has partnerships with 35 cable and broadcast television networks and 10 movie studios, including Fox, Disney, and Sony Pictures. Some of these partners pay GetGlue, but most simply provide promotional services such as on-air mentions and tweets about GetGlue by media producers. In return, GetGlue organizes sticker campaigns and online groups that encourage fans to watch or listen.
In addition to setting up paid partnerships, Iskold plans to sell space to advertisers already pursuing the audience of a TV show. Marie-Jose Montpetit, a researcher at MIT who studies social television, says GetGlue is attractive to networks because digital video recorders and on-demand streaming services are threatening to divert the live viewers who are a captive audience for on-air advertisements. Social involvement makes the initial broadcast of a show feel more like an event that can’t be missed.
Iskold believes he has found a niche that doesn’t require him to compete directly with the likes of Facebook. And while startups such as IntoNow, Miso, and Tunerfish also promote social networking around television, Iskold says GetGlue stands out because users get rewards that come directly from their favorite media creators. Ultimately, GetGlue’s true competition might turn out to be companies such as Nielsen, which have traditionally provided information about consumers’ viewing behavior.