The 549-application really has two main parts:
- 1. Each viewer has a distinct personal codeword;
2. The winning codeword is broadcast piece-wise as smaller codes.
Since you're a smart viewer, you only tune in when the codeword is revealed. But what if the codeword is slowly revealed throughout the entire show? You might watch more TV and more commercials.
The 549-application also describes a contest in which the smaller codes are revealed through the actions of TV characters instead of simply being announced. That's a nice touch to get viewers more involved in the show. It reminds me of the 'What's wrong with this episode' gimmick on the "Drew Carey Show," where viewers had to find mistakes for the chance to win $25K.
I still think that networks may run a season-long contest and not just an episode-long game.