Microsoft apparently filed a patent back in November 2011 for a way for viewers to earn Achievements while watching television and other programming. This patent, which was unveiled a few days ago, may be related to the company's claim to have "next-gen" Achievements.
According to the patent, titled “Awards and Achievements Across TV Ecosystems”, "Television viewing tends to be a passive experience for a viewer without many opportunities for the viewer to engage or have interactive experiences with the presented content. To increase interactive viewing and encourage a user to watch one or more particular items of video content, awards and achievements may be tied to those items of video content."
The patent states that viewers will be able to get Achievements for watching a single event, such as the Super Bowl, or a complete season of a television show.
"Additionally, by tying the awards and achievements to particular items of video or advertising content, viewers may be encouraged to increase their viewership of the content, thus increasing advertising opportunities," states the patent.
This could also be linked to unlocking Avatar items and other rewards as well.
Earning Achievements is nothing new in this regard, though, as other mediums have started their own version of such rewards. Message boards, for example, award various types Badges to users for posting.
Stay tuned (and earn an Achievement for doing so. Ping!)