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Is Loyalize.com About to Become the Facebook of TV?

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San Francisco-based Loyalize wants to turn your television viewing into an interactive experience. If early results are any indication, this could be the next “big thing” in technology.

“Just as every TV show today has an associated website, we believe that within 1-2 years every TV show will offer some kind of ‘companion experience' on smartphones as tablets for viewers to use while watching the show,” said Loyalize CEO Todd Greene.

What kind of companion experience does Loyalize have in mind? Greene sees unlimited possibilities, including everything from trivia to polls, director's commentary to creative competitions. The big push, at least right now, might come in the arena of social gaming as it relates to television programs.

This May, Loyalize acquired Savage Entertainment, the company known for its development of PS2-era games in EA's James Bond series, as well as more recent work on titles for the Star Wars, Medal of Honor and Transformers franchises.

“Savage Entertainment has been working closely with Loyalize for a few months now, the acquisition is the finalization of a business deal but the collaboration has been ongoing for a while. There are a number of really valuable benefits we get from the gaming world, some big and obvious (like game design ideas and related technologies), as well as more subtle benefits, like leveraging their decade of experience delivering top notch games to publishers on time and under budget.”

Integrating concepts of social media (including gaming) into the television experience is more than just a fun activity for Greene and the Loyalize team. There is real potential for monetizing this model, perhaps on a very large scale, in large part because of the growth of the smartphone and tablet markets.

“Numerous recent studies confirm that over 80% of TV viewers are simultaneously using their smartphones, tablets, or laptops,” Greene said. “A very recent report shows that smartphone use during TV viewing is a much bigger distraction than DVRs when it comes to paying attention to commercials. So its clear to TV producers that they need to engage their audience on both screens, and we know from our own sales cycles that this is a key initiative going on across the industry,” he added.

One huge opportunity for Loyalize is the 2012 election campaign. In previous elections, the only real-time audience participation was done by a small handful of randomly selected citizens who would follow the debates live, and offer thumbs up or down to different things the candidates would say.

Loyalize has a program that will change that dynamic for the next election. “Our ‘Debate Tracker' product is perfect for the upcoming 2012 election season, and will be an amazing way to gauge the nation's reaction to a debate in real time,” Greene said.

The secret to Loyalize's success might come from the ways in which they are different from other social media services, in particular industry giant Facebook.

“Unlike Facebook, our strategy is to deliver solutions through our partners and customers, instead of direct to consumers. We've architected all the Loyalize products to be white-label, making it easy and cost effective for brands and content providers (i.e. TV channels) to deliver really compelling, unique-looking real-time interactive products using Loyalize,” Greene said.

Part of the difference might be, oddly enough, location. Loyalize has its headquarters in San Francisco and another office in Los Angeles. The Loyalize team loves both locations.

“San Francisco is amazing, though so is LA (where the other part of our team is based). With our HQ in San Francisco, we're a stone's throw away from the other hottest start-ups and established tech companies, and the local community mixes and shares ideas regularly.”

“The rent is expensive, parking is a nightmare, the city infrastructure is crumbling, and earthquakes are always around the corner. But aside from those minor inconveniences, we wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”

Nor does Greene see any need to be somewhere else to grow and succeed.

“Our goal is to get our products into the hands of every audience member attending any event, or watching any broadcast, worldwide. We're only planning to be as big as we need to be to meet that goal.”

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