Lesson 3: Gamification — How to Build Audience Loyalty for Live Content

Geert Faber
May 30, 2017 · 5 min read

In this 3rd installment of our 5 part series on lessons we’ve learned from TV broadcasting and how they can be applied to live streaming, we’ll be discussing how to use gamification to retain your audience and build loyalty. In case you missed the first two installments in this series, click here for part one and here for part two.

In this lesson we provide tips on how gamification can increase engagement and loyalty for your live stream.

Now, what do we mean when we say “gamification”?

We see examples all the time both in business and in television, and particularly reality television. Gamification is essentially making any act into something of a game. Liisa Atva of the Huffington Post points out that many reality TV shows were designed specifically for this purpose, such as American Idol, which gamified a talent search. In other words, they turned that search into a game. Before Idol, this search would have been done through closed door auditions with selected record industry executives and music producers. But by opening at least part of that process up to a national audience, the creators of Idol were not only able to turn it into a game where people could play along, but they were also hugely successful in monetizing that experience because of the incredible audience loyalty they built season after season.

“Gamification is essentially making any act into something of a game.”

So, what does this mean for you and how can you leverage gamification to improve the experience of watching your live streams? Here are the 4 tips you’ll need to get things started:

1. The Play Along Experience

When you have a TV series, or a recurring live stream, it’s important to think of ways to get your audience engaged to keep coming back for each episode and retain your ratings.

With some of the apps we build for large broadcasters we saw that declining ratings don’t necessarily result in less unique app users. This can indicate that engaged viewers are more loyal to the show and are more likely to tune in for the next episode.

By inviting your audience to play along through an interactive experience, it helps people feel connected to the content in the show. This is because people playing along feel like they have an impact on the outcome. When audience members vote for their favorite performances, answer a quiz or give their opinion, they want to know what influence their input has had as the series goes on. This keeps them tuning in again and again to see those outcomes!

2. Score Points for Interactions

Another great way to build viewer loyalty is to create competition between the members of an audience. A great example of this is how CBS uses Fantasy Football to keep viewers watching their pre-game and post-game NFL coverage, and keeping football fans coming back to CBS Sports web properties as well.

CBS Fantasy Football allows people to build their “Fantasy Team” by selecting their favorite players at each position. Those players are then awarded points based on their on-field performance each game. Fantasy teams go head to head and wins and losses are awarded every week. Other broadcasters such as ESPN, NBC, Fox Sports and even The Voice have similar games to go along with their programming. Why? Because it works!

Viewers love to compete and win against one another. It provides them with satisfaction, and that feeling keeps them coming back again and again. During a live stream you can gamify the viewer’s experience by assigning points and scores based on viewer interactions and engagement.

3. Create Leaderboards & Display Player Performance

Staying with the fantasy sports example above, all these broadcasters list the leaders of their fantasy games on their broadcasts each week. They even discuss them briefly so people can see who is leading the pack, who had the biggest margin of victory this week, the biggest comeback and so on. This can both draw new people in, and provide additional motivation for viewers to keep watching and participating.

Just imagine, you have a few friends over to watch the big game on Sunday… none of them play fantasy football, but then suddenly the sportscaster on TV says your name because of your monstrous fantasy win this week. Your friends are likely to be impressed! This provides some extra motivation for people to keep participating and to do their best to stay near the top of the standings.

But you don’t have to stick to fantasy sports. You can ask trivia questions during your live stream and assign points to participating players. You can allow them to make predictions on the expected outcome, or you can create a game show in which all players compete with each other. If you combine this with national and friends based leaderboards and persistent accounts that work throughout the entire series you really connect with your audience.

4. Reward Performance

If you’re in the live streaming business, you don’t necessarily have popular channels through which you can promote results and highlight players. Another way you can drive viewer engagement through gamification is by providing rewards for player performance.

WinView is a great example of this and brings participants into the live action like never before. People using WinView play along while watching the match. Each game is a quarter-long contest in which participants must predict what will happen on the next play. All predictions are real-time based on the actual game; Will the next shot be a 3-pointer? Will the defense commit a foul?

The app also allows viewers to compete against friends, family and other fans in separate groups to see who performs best under the pressure of having to make these predictions in real time. The participants in these games will accumulate points based on their performance and the top players are awarded prizes including real cash!

This type of gamification provides the opportunity to build an audience around any kind of live content, and keep people engaged at a new level. It’s the perfect example of rewarding performance, because if you think you know what’s going to happen next, this provides a new opportunity for you to win!

Gamify your content

All of these examples can be applied to any type of live content. You could predict who will win the next award during the Oscars or Grammy Awards. You could collect points by applying fantasy team logic to reality TV show such as The Voice or Big Brother. You could even collect participation points for rating recipes on a cooking show or suggesting ingredients for the next dish.

If you find these ideas useful, remember to click follow on this page to stay up to date on all our upcoming tips and tricks, and click the little heart so more Medium readers can see the content. You can write us and share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. And remember to keep an eye out for the next installment in this series; Allowing viewers to influence the broadcast.

P.S. Ex Machina is growing and looking for passionate developers, designers and project managers. Check all open positions on our website.


The best insights from the Ex Machina Team. We develop innovative, interactive, multiscreen solutions for brands, media, and e-commerce companies. Our concepts, designs, apps, and platforms reach tens of millions of users, powering thousands of hours of interactivity worldwide.

Geert Faber

Written by

I work at @exmachinagroup and @ComingNextTV with media companies to create engaging and interactive formats. Predicts the @endoftelevision as we know it.


The best insights from the Ex Machina Team. We develop innovative, interactive, multiscreen solutions for brands, media, and e-commerce companies. Our concepts, designs, apps, and platforms reach tens of millions of users, powering thousands of hours of interactivity worldwide.