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Attention couch potatoes: FanCake app rewards sports fans for watching TV

Spectators rule. That’s one of the lessons of the ultra-competitive sports marketing business. Kwarter is proving that with today’s launch of an iPhone app called FanCake, which provides sports fans with rewards just for watching TV.

San Francisco, Calif.-based Kwarter is teaming with a variety of companies to deliver an app that allows a sports fan to claim a reward at just the right moment during a sporting event. If a pitcher strikes out three batters in a row, for example, the app will trigger a silver coin to move across the screen of your iPhone. If you tap it in the nick of time, then you will earn the reward associated with the moment.

The point is to take sports marketing a step further by rewarding fans for their loyalty with tickets, merchandise, gift cards and more. The app could be considered a social game because it “gamifies” the process of watching a sporting event. You can, for instance, make a quick prediction about what will happen in the event. If you guess right, you’ll earn a prize.

The rewards program is part of what Internet marketing pioneer Doc Searles calls the Intention Economy, where marketers realize they should pay more to target customers who will be lucrative in the long haul. Raptr, the gamer social network, launched a similar rewards program for loyal users just for playing games.

The company’s partners include Fanatics.com, Kiip, Oracle Arena and O.co Coliseum, ScoreBig, and Total Hockey. Kiip is the rewards marketing firm that allows brands to give gamers real-world, branded prizes when they reach a certain achievement in a game. Kwarter uses Kiip, but it has also created its own rewards program by working directly with brands, said Carlos Diaz, chief executive of Kwarter.

“We’re very excited about offering users rewards for watching TV,” he said. “Our job is to make the community around events more active.”

FanCake will incorporate rewards from its partners and add more over time. Players earn prizes in the app by accumulating FanCake Credits. They do so by checking into games and catching FanCake medals during real-time sports moments. They are also rewarded for making comments during the event. The more fans watch, the more friends they invite, and the better they do in the meta game will result in more credits they will earn.

Users can redeem FanCake Credits for real rewards in the FanCake Catalogue, which features the list of available prizes from the app’s partners. Users receive rewards through gift cards and online coupon codes, which players can then use toward tickets, merchandise, and more. Sample rewards include 20 percent discounts at Fanatics, $20 off tickets from ScoreBig, as well as FanCake Rewards boxes filled with logo stickers, a T-Shirt, and other exclusive FanCake items. Gift cards are available from Nike and Papa John’s Pizza, among other brands.

Diaz and Sam Hickmann founded Kwarter in 2011, and it has five employees. The two men created successful companies in France and then moved to San Francisco. They became fans of the San Francisco Giants. But they found that the games were long, and they wanted to think of an experience to make these events more compelling. They also wanted to reward fans who were not at the stadium. They’ve been creating versions of the app ever since. Only recently have they added more game mechanics and the rewards program. The company created separate apps for the iPad and the iPhone.

Rivals include PrePlay, GrabFan, Viggle, and PlayUp. Kwarter is trying to create a better user experience with a focus on gameplay, original artwork, messaging, and navigation. Kwarter has raised $1 million to date from Kima Ventures and private angel investors.


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