The man who ran the company that owns “American Idol” is back to take another crack at the entertainment business.
Robert F.X. Sillerman, former chief exec of CKX Entertainment, went public Wednesday with launch plans for the first product to be released under his oddly named new company, Function(x). The venture is moving into the nascent social-TV space with a new app, dubbed Viggle, that rewards viewers for watching TV with a loyalty program not unlike the kind airlines have been using for years.
What exactly Sillerman had in mind with Function(x) has been shrouded in mystery since he snapped up a dormant company, Gateway Industries, nearly a year ago and renamed it without saying much beyond his intent to get back into the media business.
Sillerman already made a name for himself at CKX, which owned production company 19 Entertainment, the firm behind “Idol” and the licensing rights to dead celebrities including Elvis Presley. Before starting CKX in 2005, Sillerman bought and sold major holdings in the radio and concert businesses.
But Sillerman was left standing on the sidelines at CKX after making a futile bid to retain control of the company. He was replaced as CEO of CKX, which was sold last year to a group of investors led by Apollo Global Management.
Now Sillerman is back with Viggle, likely the first of a fleet of services that will be positioned at the intersection of media and technology. Viggle is yet another check-in service akin to GetGlue and Miso but with a twist: Instead of badges and stickers, its point system translates to more substantial gifts from companies including Burger King, Fandango and Hulu Plus.