- NBCUniversal released a mobile app that gives viewers a chance to win points for streaming select shows from its family of broadcast and cable networks. The WatchBack app kicked off with a sweepstakes to win $100 worth of points by watching E!'s new reality show "Ashlee+Evan" before Oct. 9, per Variety.
- Amazon, Best Buy, Burger King, NFL Shop, Papa John's, Starbucks, Target and Walmart are among the brands that offer gift cards in exchange for redeeming WatchBack points.
- In addition to limited-time full episodes and short video clips from its networks, NBCU also has licensed nonexclusive content from BuzzFeed's Nifty and Tasty, Mashable, PBS and Refinery29, among other media companies. The WatchBack app is free to download from Apple's App Store.
NBCU's WatchBack app may help to get viewers hooked on new shows by giving them a chance to win cash prizes at retailers and restaurants in exchange for their attention. Because mobile users must create an account to watch streamed shows on the app, NBCU is creating a direct communication channel with viewers that urges them to return to the app for more shows and other possible chances to win prizes. The app has third-party tracking software, including by Nielsen, but WatchBack users can choose to opt out of measurement, per Variety.
Some of the video content displays pre-roll ads, giving brands a chance to reach targeted audiences on the app. As Variety notes, the app feels very promotional with its mix of content, none of which is exclusive to WatchBack. Full-length episodes of shows can't be fast-forwarded or rewound, as other streaming apps allow. The biggest incentive for viewers to use the app is the possibility of winning gift cards, but entering a lottery pool with a slim chance of winning a prize may not be that appealing to many smartphone users if the content isn't compelling or exclusive.
The WatchBack app could help NBCU reach younger audiences that have migrated to mobile devices to watch shows as they cancel traditional TV subscriptions. Millennials and Gen Zers are the biggest consumers of online video, spending 33% and 41% of their digital time viewing video, respectively, according to a VidMob study. Cord-cutting is forecast to rise 32.8% this year to 33 million U.S. adults, per researcher eMarketer. About 70% of cable and satellite subscribers said they don't get enough value for their subscription fees, and more than half of those customers only keep a subscription because it's bundled with internet connection, Deloitte's 2018 Digital Media Trends Survey found.