HQ trivia still attracts hundreds of thousands of people a day in the U.S. and Canada — simultaneously playing its trivia games. But when it comes to building an online game show empire, other platforms including Facebook and The Q have been investing overseas.
Back in June 2018, Facebook announced Confetti, its copycat of HQ trivia. On July 11, Facebook launched the first Confetti game in the U.S., and it’s been hosting games every weekday since. Facebook also has created versions of Confetti for Mexico, the U.K., Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam.
The Q, which was launched by video streaming company Stream in November 2017, has been providing the tech back end for other publishers to create their own games. In June 2018, News UK inked a partnership with The Q to host a twice-daily trivia show. On Jan. 7, WatchMojo — a publisher known for its top-10 videos on YouTube — announced its collaboration with The Q for a weekly trivia show. WatchMojo streams globally, but payouts are restricted to U.S. and Canada. News UK streams to a U.K.-only audience.
Meanwhile, HQ stopped its U.K.-only show in December. The company’s UK Twitter account tweeted on Dec. 5, “We’re taking a break as we get ready for our brand new show @HQWords. Stay tuned!” An HQ spokesperson declined to comment.
While HQ has put its efforts to grow internationally on hold, both Facebook and The Q are seizing the opportunity to spread their products globally. Some of these shows have been even more successful than the U.S. versions. For example, Facebook hosts two daily shows in Mexico whereas every other country it’s currently operating has only one each. A Facebook spokesperson said the popularity of the game in Mexico is evidence that Confetti can create fan engagement.
Though, operating internationally isn’t always easy. The Q, for example, has restricted payouts to U.S., Canada and U.K. because of certain regulations in other countries. The Q also launched in India but has since paused that operation after a controversy surrounding its publishing partner.
Overall, hosting a daily trivia app isn’t as simple as it may seem. They require an entertaining host, accurate and challenging questions, solid tech support and enough money to just give away. But Facebook and participating publishers with The Q said live game shows have been worthwhile — so far. They can grow new audiences and tout engagement and scale in the form of concurrent video viewership. These games haven’t shown ads — unlike in HQ trivia — but the video views can be included in the publishers’ overall sales pitch, and they could introduce branded deals in the future.
As a first mover to this emerging industry of live trivia apps on mobile, HQ trivia was the obvious inspiration for these copycat experiences. WatchMojo’s CRO Matt McDonagh said his team has been interested in trivia for a while.
“We have done polling and teasing trivia and done some of our own trivia, but we were never 100 percent focused on it. I do think HQ got us that much more interested,” McDonagh said.
Working with The Q allowed WatchMojo to try the format without having to invest in the tech or “upset the rhythm of our current channel,” McDonagh said. “The Q has been a good distributor for us. We couldn’t just drop everything and become a technology company.”
David McLean, gm of news productions at News UK, said his team also became interested in trivia shortly after HQ. “We wanted to create our own thing, but with this, you need to get to market quite quickly. The quickest thing to do was partner up so we were introduced to The Q,” McLean said.
As one of the world’s richest tech companies that has also prioritized video, Facebook’s decision to offer more interactive, live video is rather obvious. Indeed, Confetti host Timothy DeLaGhetto started a recent show by saying, “Welcome to Confetti. We’re giving away money. I don’t know if you knew this, but Facebook has a lot of it.”
On that day, Confetti was giving away $5,000. While 24,970 players got the first question right, the 13-question game ended with 188 winners taking home about $26.59 each.
A Facebook spokesperson told Digiday that Confetti is an example of how video can be social when integrated with Facebook’s tech and content.
However, Facebook isn’t producing the shows. The company partnered with Thumb Candy Media, the digital studio within B-17 Entertainment, for its shows in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It has partnered with Fremantle, the studio behind hit reality TV competition series “America’s Got Talent” and “X Factor,” for its other international shows.
Facebook also works with Insider Inc. for distribution. The publisher promotes the show by sharing it on Facebook and creates other marketing assets, a Facebook spokesperson said.
Beyond Confetti, Facebook is allowing a limited number of partners to try their own versions of interactive game shows. Fresno previously ran a show called “What’s In The Box?” but it stopped production in October. Next month, BuzzFeed will launch a show called “Outside Your Bubble” on Facebook, a BuzzFeed spokesperson said.
Unlike the aggressive tactics Facebook has used to market other products, Confetti in the U.S. has been somewhat quiet. A Facebook spokesperson said it’s noticed organic growth through friends and family playing together on Facebook. In Confetti games, users can see when one of their Facebook friends is playing and what their guesses are even before they guess themselves. The Facebook spokesperson shared that in the last quarter of 2018, more than 45 percent of Confetti players in the U.S. played with a friend at least once and more than 80 percent of winners have played the game with others.
For the publishing partners, having a live game show is about building an audience rather than just finding a new alternative revenue source — at least at the moment.
“We can use our audience [on The Q] to introduce them to other things we have like a radio station. It’s a good way for us to advertise ourselves,” said McLean of News UK.
WatchMojo’s McDonagh said his team is giving themselves a three- to six-month window to grow the game’s audience and decide if advertising within it makes sense.
“Our effort is to diversify the video offering we have, so when we’re out on the street and we’re saying we’re doing these interesting things. We’re trying to go beyond top-10 video listicles. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to publish what we’re known for, but we want to diversify,” McDonagh said.