Okay, we’re going to take a little trip down memory lane. Before smart phones and Snapchat… Long before the news was ever prefaced as ‘Fake’ and when Facebook was only a twinkle in a young a Mark Zuckerberg’s eye…

We’re going to go back all the way to 2002, and the launch of American Idol.

I know what you’re thinking, “What does a singing competition have in common with gamification and HQ Trivia?”.

A little background first…

In the first mass scale TV event – American Idol gave at home audiences the chance to make a direct impact on the outcome of a show. In the first few seasons the broadcast saw engagement like never before. In April 2003, Idol received more than 2.5 million text messages in the form of: polls, sweepstakes entries, trivia questions and votes. What’s even more impressive? 22% of fans said they first learned to text by voting for their favorite Idol contestant. (discover more about this here).

As dated as it may seem – this was a huge initiative in audience participation and gamification overall. The show completely disrupted the traditional entertainment landscape and transformed the way that we watch and interact with our favorite content.

Fast-forward 15+ years later, there is an engagement app for just about anything and everything you could imagine.

While we’ve been closely following the sheer phenomenon that is HQ Trivia…With its millions of devoted users and seemingly ‘instant success’ the app shares a striking resemblance with the early (and most recent) seasons of American Idol.

So, what is the secret ingredient that both American Idol and HQ Trivia share?

Fan engagement through gamification.

Through our years of experience on Idol, as well as powering other mass-scale interactive campaigns across TV, digital, social and live streaming, we’ve found that gamification activations are great tactics to drive user interaction and deliver fan engagement.

For example, earlier this year we launched the American Idol Native App… Chock full of all things gamification.

While the app contains just about everything a super-fan could dream of (did someone say IDOLIZE your selfie?!) it also gives users various opportunities to play-along with the show.

A particularly innovative experience took place during the audition phase where fan could comment and guess which hopeful contestants the judges would send to the next round.

This was exciting for fans as it gave them an opportunity to engage in a part of the show that had not been available to them in the past seasons. Offering fans this type exclusive access to content is a classic success tactic of gamification as it drives loyalty around your brand.

Another engagement method (and arguably the most popular element of the broadcast) is the weekly fan vote.

Each week, fans are able to vote for their favorite contestant via text, online and of course the American Idol App. Letting users affect the outcome of your content is another proven technique to boost fan engagement. It’s also a key ingredient to Idol’s continued success.

In addition to the voting and play-along audition experiences – the app has various other activations that drive fan participation. From UGC Creation, Video Tools, Social Fan Feeds and more – it acts as a centralized hub connecting fans directly with their favorite content. This is especially important as research shows that a mix of premium and UGC content increases engagement by 28%.

In only a few months, the app has seen huge success. And with the show’s undeniable popularity and longevity – it’s clear to see that American Idol’s interactivity has paved the way for HQ Trivia and other gamification applications.

In another first, Idol will be launching simulcast broadcast with cross country real-time voting on Sunday April 29th – proving the power of live interaction to drive mass participation.

As Idol continues to grow and build a new fan base, it will exciting to see how this latest gamification driven development helps build their ratings as they continue to shift the conversation in live entertainment.

Interested in learning more about driving fan engagement through gamification? Check out our suite of of social, digital, video and live streaming experiences.

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