'Today' launches Viggle integration with Toyota for summer concert series [interview]

By Natan Edelsburg 

The summer is upon us and that means that NBC News’ morning show, “Today” is throwing its annual concert series. The network will be using the Toyota-sponsored event to experiment with social TV as they bring on acts like Pitbull, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5 and more. They kicked off their social TV efforts with their first partnership with Viggle for Friday’s Pitbull performance.

The Viggle integration for Pitbull included rewarded users with points for playing along with Pitbull, answering questions and polls along the way. We spoke to Ryan Osborn, Senior Director of Digital Media at NBC News about their creative use of #hashtags on screen, Viggle and how they continue to provide added value to the series’ sponsor, Toyota.

Lost Remote: What’s NBC New doing differently with social TV for your morning summer concerts?

Ryan Osborn: As social TV continues to mature so has our strategy. There are three different audiences for the concerts: people watching TV at home, crowd watching live on Rockefeller Plaza and also the audience that will watch on-demand clips on TODAY.com. Each group uses social media in a different way and I think this year we have taken a much more holistic view of integrating each.

LR: How are you using #Hashtags differently?

Osborn: Hashtags have become a core part of our messaging. From the moment TODAY Senior Producer Melissa Lonner booked the artists, hashtags have been seen in on-air promos, on our sites and on the day of the concert can be seen in the upper left corner of the television screen.

LR: How are you using Viggle for the first time? How will you be judging success?

Osborn: Every year, we like to try something new and experiment with a platform that seems to offer a unique value. This year for a few concerts, we’re testing a synched second screen experience with Viggle that allows users to unlock real-life rewards.

LR: What have you learned from social TV experiences in the past?

Osborn: Artists are more engaged than ever before. Each year have watched them get more social media savvy. When a performer uses our hashtags and help share our content within social media it can really drive the experience.

Anything else?

Osborn: Our sales team has made clear that Toyota is a great partner. As we continue to activate audiences on new platforms, we aim to drive value for our advertisers in new ways.