Let’s face it the television and media landscape in 2015 is a lot different than when you were growing up. No matter how old you are. Even in the last three to four years the way people watch and consume TV content has changed so drastically. Yes… all you 3-year-olds reading this that means you too.
Luckily people like Milford, CT native Paul Gulyas have realized this and decided to do something about it.
Paul is part of a small team of digital creatives, internet veterans, and tech-savvy cyborgs, who all happen to be massive television fans. They have always wanted to give people an opportunity to show off their insight into the world of television, thus their new app SHOWoff was born.
I actually downloaded the app right before The Walking Dead started this year. It really does add a whole new level of fun to watching your favorite shows.
Instead of me trying to explain the story behind it all, what exactly SHOWoff is, and why you should care. I decided to reach out to Paul himself and have him break it down for us.
I will now hand the keyboard over to Mr. Gulyas. Take it away Paul…
Everyone thinks they know what will happen next on their favorite TV shows. It comes standard with being a television fan, or any form of serialized storytelling really. There’s just something innately gratifying about predicting what’s coming in a narrative before it plays out. Maybe it’s because it lets you feel smarter than its creators for a brief moment. More likely it makes you feel superior to your fellow spectators who had no clue or, worse, dared to disagree with you. With my group of friends, the bickering over who’s got it right can go on endlessly, especially over some adult beverages. So about a year and a half ago, we decided to end the arguing and do something about it.
We didn’t know it then, but that decision would lead us regular ol’ TV fans to an epic endeavor of covering over seventy episodes of television a week for as many shows, then putting out literally hundreds of predictions about those shows for people to play in a never-ending iOS app competition. First, I have tell you how that happened. Then, more importantly, I’ll tell you why.
At the time, AMC’s Breaking Bad was set to run its final stretch of eight episodes. We wanted to formalize our predictions and turn them into a game, awarding points for predicting things like… would Walt’s cancer return? Would Jesse put a bullet in his former teacher? Would Walt Jr. be seen eating breakfast one last time? We thought we knew exactly how it all would play out and, luckily for us, so did A LOT of other people.
We figured that if the 41 million people playing fantasy sports in North America could build a competition around things like who will run the longest stretch of yards this Sunday, why couldn’t we build a competition around, say, which characters would have the longest run (see: NOT BE MURDERED) on a show like Breaking Bad?
And so, The Betting Bad Game was born. This, we would learn, was just the first step on a momentous climb to something greater (I’m getting there, don’t worr).
We built Betting Bad it with two purposes. 1) To let Breaking Bad fans predict how they thought every character, storyline, and dangling thread would be wrapped up come the closing credits of the show’s series finale. And, 2) to provide people with solid proof, to be utilized in much shoving in faces, that they did indeed “call it” before it happened.
Players had up until the premiere of the final season to lock in their bets. Then they’d watch week to week as they racked up points for things they got right. Leaderboards showed how they did compared to their friends and the entire world. The simple web-based game was released, and we let people spread it around.
And spread it they did. It grew fast; faster than we imagined it could, garnering hundreds and hundreds of players in the first week. In an extra cool/surreal moment for us fanboys, show writer/exec producer Peter Gould (now heading up “Break Bad” spin-off, “Better Call Saul” on AMC) tweeted about us, “This is pure genius. Really. I’m stunned. Wish I could play. #BettingBad.” We were completely floored when by the time the season premiere rolled around, we had close to 10,000 people who had locked in their bets.
Well, the closing credits of Breaking Bad came and went, and our game had ended. Of course we wanted more of the show. But it didn’t feel like it was time for Betting Bad to go the way of Walter White, either. But where could we go from there?
That’s when we saw the bigger picture, and with it the monumental task we were faced with. If 10,000 people were playing a competition around how Walter White’s tale would end, why WOULDN’T they join in a competition around how many zombies Rick and the gang would kill this episode? Or who Dr. Meredith Grey would date next? Or even which B-list star had the sweetest dance moves? What if we did Betting Bad for more than one show? What if we could do it for ALL SHOWS?
And so we created SHOWoff: fantasy sports for the rest of television. Expanded from our original vision, players can now predict what they think happens next on their favorite TV dramas, comedies, reality competitions, and live events (like The Oscars), altogether over 100 shows in one handy-dandy iOS app.
So, that’s how we got here. Now we come to the “why?”
Why create this game? Why create it as a mobile app? Well, about a year ago, our answer may have been along the lines of “because all the cool kids are doing it.” But we quickly realized that by building SHOWoff, and specifically building it for mobile, we were addressing a number of problems television faces on both the consumer side and the business side.
The consumer problem is just this: the ever-rising popularity of DVR and streaming means a lot of TV fans just aren’t watching live TV anymore and with people taking shows in at their own pace, that crucial “water cooler” buzz has shrunk. In fact, people are probably actively avoiding the water cooler in fear of spoilers. The bonding experience provided by shared discovery (with friends next to us on our couch, to all of us collectively as a nation) has been dealt a debilitating blow.
There’s an equally heavy problem for networks and advertisers. Out of a reported 40% of viewers who use a smartphone or tablet while watching TV, 70% are engaged in something unrelated to TV whatsoever. So not only are we all skipping the commercials, we’re barely paying attention to the show itself. This fragmentation of media is an epic second-screen opportunity fail on the business side.
More than anything, these things hurt, or at least take away from, the medium of storytelling we truly love most: television. This is not okay.
SHOWoff sets out to fix all this. It’s a game that gives you a REASON to keep up with your shows week to week and not leave them for a weekend-destroying binge-watch when it finally goes up on Netflix a year later. By adding a layer of healthy competition to TV watching, SHOWoff rejuvenates tune-in television, keeping it fun and interesting. On top of that, we’ve put this game on the device that almost half of TV viewers already have in their hands anyway. SHOWoff gives TV fans a reason to keep the conversation going after the episode ends, and they can carry that reason with them at all times in their pocket.
With The Oscars coming up this weekend it is a perfect time to get in on the SHOWoff craze now. You can download the app HERE
They are also running a pretty amazing sweepstakes you can enter right now where you can win $1,000, a 4K HDTV, an Apple TV, AND a year of Netflix.
The future of watching TV has arrived. Who knew it would have started with someone from right here in Connecticut.