NEW YORK (AP) — The WE television network is offering prizes to people who watch, as long as they watch promptly.
The network said it is starting an experiment this week where people who prove they watched its Thursday night episode of "Tamar & Vince" either live or within three days will be eligible to win a bag of show memorabilia and, ultimately, a home entertainment system.
The incentive, believed to be the first in the TV industry, indicates the value of timely viewing. Advertising rates are based on watching programs either live or within three days on digital video recorders or on demand services.
Marc Juris, WE tv president, also wants people to watch live to encourage social media conversations around the network's programming. WE is heavy on reality programming like "Kendra on Top" and "Braxton Family Values."
"We wanted to create a level of urgency to watch the shows," Juris said.
The network will flash a code word during a commercial break on "Tamar & Vince." Viewers who enter the word on the network's website within three days will be eligible for one of 10 "swag bags" given out each week and for the home theater grand prize.
If the experiment is deemed successful, it may spread to other programs, he said.
WE is averaging 696,000 live viewers for original prime-time programming this year, an average that increases to 943,000 if viewing within three days is added. Stretch it out for a full week, and another 5 percent usually joins in, according to the Nielsen company.
Under Juris, WE — which stood for Women's Entertainment — is trying to broaden its outlook.
"We wanted a brand that a guy wouldn't be embarrassed to say that he's watching," he said.