NBCU Launches Streaming Research and Promo Platform WatchBack

NBCUniversal has officially launched WatchBack, a streaming app that entices viewers to expose their TV taste and other data in exchange for reward points at nationally branded retail outlets.

Launching Friday, WatchBack is only available as an iOS app, confining it to Apple mobile devices. Those who watched the first two 23-minute episodes of the new E! reality series Ashlee+Evan by Monday 12 a.m. ET  were entered to be one of 10 winners of $100 in rewards points.

Those points were redeemable at retail and dining outlets including Amazon, Best Buy, Burger King, Domino’s, eBay, Fandango, Krispy Kreme, Macy’s, NASCAR.com SuperStore, NFL Shop, Papa John’s, SiriusXM, Starbucks, Target, Walmart and Whole Foods.

NBC has partnered with Nielsen to measure viewing on the platform, although users can opt out of having that data usage mined.

The platform includes full-length and short-form content from across the NBCU programming empire—from Bravo to USA Network. Also included is content from more than 60 third-party programmers from across the internet, including BuzzzFeet, Newsy, Mashable, CollegeHumor and Refinary29.

Related: NBCU Readying Launch of Streaming Service That Pays Viewers to Watch

The user experience is a bit jagged—viewers can’t rewind, pause and fast-forward through content, and there are preroll adds you can't skip through, either. But NBCU views the platform primarily as a means of gathering viewer data and promoting content on its bigger platforms.

"With so many options available, our research has shown that many great new shows have trouble finding their audience," said Andrew Hanna, VP insights and strategy at NBCUniversal, told The Hollywood Reporter. "The long-term goal of WatchBack is to make it just a little easier for consumers to try out new programs for the first time and create fans for us and our partners.”

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!