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ABC?s Rising Star collaborative app places viewers on screen

Television network ABC?s reality series ?Rising Star? premiered June 22 alongside a collaborative mobile application, enabling live votes and the chance for participants to be shown on screen.

A virtual wall stands behind host Josh Groban, and as votes are submitted, participants are randomly selected to appear on the wall, as their profile pictures are visible to the public. In an effort to ?raise the wall,? viewers control which contestants will advance in real time while receiving publicity. 

?An interactive app alone will likely not increase first run viewership, however it could increase engagement,? said Tracy Kunzi, director of client and creative services at Outspoken, Los Angeles. ?The download and usage of an app in and of itself is a difficult action to request of a user especially if there is limited familiarity with the content. 

?A key for participation is to display the results on air or Web and push traffic towards it,? she said. ?This will not only increase viewership but create chatter in social communities as well.?

Ms. Kunzi is not affiliated with ABC or Rising Star, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

ABC did not respond by press deadline.

Melodic voting
ABC initially promoted the show on a commercial break during an episode of ?The Bachelorette? June 16. Josh Groban introduced the new reality series and provided step-by-step instructions on how to use the app.

These instructions can be viewed on YouTube in an instructional video similar to what premiered on The Bachelorette last week. The YouTube video features host Josh Groban and other celebrity experts Kesha, Brad Paisley and Ludacris.

Users make a profile on the app by linking to their Twitter or Facebook account. During each performance, participants swipe blue if they are in favor of a singer and red if they are not in favor. Meanwhile, viewers can watch the tallying of the votes and for their picture to appear.

Once a singer finishes his or her performance, the at-home audience votes, and if 70 percent of viewers are in support of the performer, the singer will advance in the competition.

ABC?s promotional campaign includes instructions for younger viewers, enabling them to be able to participate. By providing a simple process, Rising Star will likely acquire some popularity as one of the first television shows to incorporate live voting with an independent app.

Collaborative entertainment
Mobile apps that encourage a collaborative effort alongside an event in real time have shown to gain more followers.

For example, a mobile promotion for the Dollywood theme park?s newest ride held promise for effectively connecting the digital and physical worlds by offering real-time benefits for skilled gamers.

Customers who play FireChaser Express ? The Game while waiting in line at the theme park?s new FireChaser Express roller coaster can win free passes to the express lane for the ride. The player with the highest score each hour between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. gets two free passes to the faster queue (see story). 

Also, TVG, the largest legal online gaming platform in the United States, launched the first native horseracing wagering application for iOS devices, following suit to the sharp increase in mobile gambling.

The launch preceded the Belmont Stakes, a major horseracing event. The app offered betting to over 150 racetracks worldwide, live video feeds and account management for deposits and withdrawals (see story).

Considering that Rising Star is a new show, the app may not generate substantial traffic. 

?Creating an app with a familiar and easy interface is key for repeat use, but it?s not an effective strategy for acquisition,? Ms. Kunzi said. ?A solid acquisition strategy usually provides an incentive to its users ranging from exclusive content to giveaways to instant gratification. 

?An app strategy should accompany more organic and frictionless methods of increasing awareness and engagement. For example, Outspoken?s work with X-Factor provided a messaging channel for fans to interact 1:1 with the characters by asking questions and having them answered on-air or via video MMS.?

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Marketer, New York