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Showtime Strikes Social Pact With GetGlue

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GetGlue is looking to entice more Web users to "check in" to various entertainment events by offering something more than social currency.

The fast-growing social media startup has just inked a new promotional deal with Showtime that will encourage viewers to broadcast their love for the network’s original series by dangling free DVDs. Starting this Sunday (Jan. 9), GetGlue users will be encouraged to check in to Weeds, Californication (pictured at left) and new series Shameless. As the season progresses, 21 viewers of each show—among the most active GetGlue users—will be eligible to receive free DVDs of the series, a first for GetGlue and Showtime.

The free DVD enticement will continue throughout the year for 10 Showtime series in total, including Dexter, which generated 100,000 fan check-ins during its most recent season. As part of the new deal, GetGlue will also be integrated within the individual show pages on Showtime’s Web site.

GetGlue, which has received funding from Time Warner and several other venture capital firms, is one of several startups pushing social–entertainment recommendation and fan hubs. The site/mobile app blends elements of Facebook and Foursquare: users can check in to movies, books and TV shows. Several TV networks, including HBO and Fox, have partnered with GetGlue to encourage live viewing by rewarding users who check in as shows air with virtual goods and stickers.

But with Showtime, GetGlue is taking it up a notch. “For entertainment check-ins to become a habit, we have to make a case for it,” said CEO Alex Iskold. “We need our service to be exceptional and useful. And people love physical rewards.”

According to Iskold, GetGlue has 800,000 registered users who average 10 million ratings or "likes" each month. The company is facing competition from Miso, a similar service which recently received funding from media heavyweights such as Hearst and Google.

“That’s another indicator that the space is heating up,” said Iskold.