Trivia app is the answer to the TV game show

NEW YORK • These are heady times for the creators of HQ Trivia. The app, which broadcasts live shows to iPhones and iPads twice a day, has taken off since its debut in August.

Its ability to attract tens of thousands of people to log in for each 15-minute segment in hopes of winning money by answering a dozen trivia questions has some wondering if it has reimagined the television game show for the cord-cutting era.

And its success with livestreaming video on phones - an area in which Facebook and Twitter have heavily invested, with mixed results - has the technology and media worlds buzzing.

HQ Trivia's founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, both 33, previously founded the six-second video app Vine, which Twitter bought in 2012 and shuttered this year.

The two, based in New York, have been working to develop video apps for the past two years with "a few million dollars" in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, the first institution to invest in Snapchat.

The firm is also the source of HQ's daily cash prizes, at least until the company figures out an advertising model.

The game - available only on Apple devices, though an Android version is scheduled to arrive around Christmas - features a counter in the corner of the screen that ticks up as people log on to play at 3 and 9pm Eastern Time (4 and 10am Singapore time) on weekdays and 9pm (10am Singapore time) on weekends.

It is typically hosted by an energetic comedian, Scott Rogowsky, who cracks jokes as he asks a dozen multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty.

It can make one cringe to see what questions lead to a major elimination of players. For example, at least 20,000 people were unable to identify the correct spelling of "embarrassed". But the app tests a range of knowledge: Carson Daly, the former MTV host, posted on Instagram that he was excited to be an option for "Who co-hosted the first season of American Idol with Ryan Seacrest in 2002?"

Those who answer all the questions correctly share in a prize that has fluctuated between hundreds and thousands of dollars and is distributed via PayPal.

Mr Jeremy Liew, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, said: "This is way more fun than playing a quiz game on your phone and way more fun than watching Jeopardy! on TV."

Still, whether HQ can turn its sudden popularity into a long-term business is an open question.

Mr Liew said: "If you can become part of popular culture, you can figure out a way to make money."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2017, with the headline 'Trivia app is the answer to the TV game show'. Print Edition | Subscribe