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The Bravo TV channel is teaming up with start-up Bunchball to “gamify” its Top Chef All-Stars show so that fans will be more engaged and loyal.

Gamification adds game-like features, such as rewards and achievements, to non-game applications. San Jose, Calif.-based Bunchball has specialized in gamification for web sites for five years. With the TV show, Bunchball is creating a Virtual Top Chef competition on the web site.

This kind of deal is what Bunchball is all about. Some of its customers have been able to double their impressions; one has seen a 40 percent increase in unique users, the company says. Another site saw an 85 percent increase in the amount of time spent on one site.

The game is all about getting users to be more loyal to the web site than they otherwise would be, and it’s part of a larger gamification trend hitting the market. The whole topic is the subject of the Gamification Summit in San Francisco on Thursday.


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The game features all 18 “cheftestants” from the current TV show season. Fans can choose their favorite cheftestant, then earn points and trophies by completing actions and activities on the site. The cheftestant whose team has the most points at the end of the season will be honored with the Virtual Top Chef title and be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win $5,000. The more the fans play, the more they increase their chances of winning.

The game is a way to reward the most loyal and passionate fans, particularly those who watch season after season, said Mari Ghuneim, vice president of Bravo Digital Media. The competition focuses on strategy and team dynamics. Fans can recruit fans to their teams, or switch chef teams at any time. The top-performing fans are highlighted on the home page. Fans can earn trophies, which are displayed on the person’s profile page on the web site.

Rajat Paharia (pictured), founder and chief product officer of Bunchball, says it makes sense to integrate a virtual competition alongside the TV show, since rivalry is the heart of the show and fans can make a difference in the outcome of the show, which concludes on April 6.

Bunchball’s clients include the Syfy channel, WB, USA Network, Hearst, Meredith, NBC, Comcast, Victoria’s Secret Pink, Resource Interactive, Exent, LiveOps, Piczo and the Ultimate Movie Site. The company was founded in 2005 and is funded by Granite Ventures and Adobe Systems.

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