Two MIT Sloan MBAs are spicing up prime-time television with a web site that injects a little fantasy into reality.
The site, TVLeagues.com, brings together two recent pop-culture phenomena: fantasy sports leagues and so-called "reality" TV shows.
TVLeagues.com invites users to create or join virtual leagues. Just as fantasy sports league participants get points when their athlete picks perform well on the field, TVLeagues.com users gain points by correctly predicting which contestants will be eliminated from reality shows like "American Idol," "America's Next Top Model," "Dancing with the Stars," "Survivor" and "Project Runway."
"We created TVLeagues as a fun way for people already watching and talking about reality TV shows to interact and compete against one another," said co-founder and second-year MBA student Eric Hanover. "Our game engages communities of fans in a more interactive viewing experience."
The site was launched in November, just as television networks were ordering up even more reality shows as a result of the Writers Guild of America strike, which began that month.
Co-founder David Hui, MBA '05, said the decision to launch was based on the demand for reality TV, although the strike contributes to the popularity of the site. In fact, he said, it was the popularity of one specific show--the fashion reality program "Project Runway"--that led to the creation of TVLeagues.com.
"My colleagues used to watch 'Project Runway' all the time. It was a common conversation piece at work," Hui said. "One day, we decided to compete to see who could best predict the losers of each show. We enjoyed the competition, but there wasn't a convenient vehicle to organize our picks and results. I spoke about this problem with the other TVLeagues founders, who are big fans of reality TV and fantasy sports. After a couple months of refining the game and developing the site, we launched TVLeagues.com."