Friday, April 11, 2014

The .@Ziosk example - what if an NTN Buzztime Playmaker were on EVERY table?

Long-time readers of this blog are very familiar with NTN Buzztime's pitch to restaurants and bars - if you install the networked trivia system in your bar, your patrons will play the trivia, and will stay at your restaurant/bar longer, and will spend more money as a result.

Obviously, this idea is not unique to NTN Buzztime. On Thursday night, I went to the Montclair, California Chili's for the first time in a long while, and when I looked at the tables in the restaurant, I saw that there was a standing tablet on every table.

The tablets are manufactured by a company called Ziosk, and while there are some differences between the Ziosk devices and the NTN Buzztime Playmakers, both have similar goals - to get restaurant/bar customers to spend as much money as possible. I don't really want to go into detail about Ziosk; perhaps I'll write some more about it in my Empoprise-BI business blog at some point. In the meantime, you can read what Venessa Wong wrote last September about Ziosk.

But for the purposes of the Empoprise-NTN NTN Buzztime blog, I do want to highlight one thing. I've already mentioned it, but I'll mention it again.

The Ziosk devices were on EVERY table.

And that can be a powerful differentiator.

If you think about it, for a restaurant/bar to get the most out of the Playmakers, a patron actually has to request the Playmaker. In every establishment that I've visited, the Playmakers are stored in the back of the restaurant, or behind the bar, getting charged. Of course, you could also use the NTN Buzztime mobile app, but you would have to download the app first.

With Ziosk, or at least the Ziosk installation at the Montclair Chili's that is not a concern. The Ziosk device is already there. You don't have to ask for it.

What if NTN Buzztime establishments had enough Playmakers so that one could be on every table? Would that increase use (and restaurant/bar revenue)? Would they be too hard to charge? Would they look too ugly on the tables? Would they need more functionality than trivia to be compelling?

Something to think about.

POSTSCRIPT: After writing this post, I belatedly discovered that Buzztime has its own tablet, called Beond. However, it is only available in select locations, and I don't know if the locations have a Beond device at every table.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The promise

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in Fullerton with a little time on my hands, so I returned to the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brea to play some trivia. My scores can be found on my profile.

This raises the question - why didn't I go to Lamppost Pizza in West Yorba Linda, where I had played in October 2013?

Simple reason - Lamppost Pizza has apparently discontinued Buzztime. And frankly, I can't blame them - I was one of the more frequent players there, and I hadn't been there in months.

Which returns me to my previous post in this blog, back from all the hoopla from my tenth anniversary of blogging. Back in the mid 1980s, the NTN technology held so much promise:

Bar Game Gives Bears Plenty Of Quarterbacks

September 11, 1987|By Jim Sulski.

When the Bears take the field Monday night against the New York Giants, Coach Mike Ditka and his quarterback-whoever he is-won`t be the only ones calling the plays.

In bars throughout Chicago and the rest of the nation, hundreds of fans also will be deciding whether to run, pass or kick. Instead of huddling with the players, however, they`ll simply be pushing buttons....

"This is the next stage after video games," said NTN sales representative Steve Perille, 24. "In this case, players actually interact with a live football game."

"People have been second-guessing the coach or the call ever since the first football game," added QB1 founding father Dan Downs, the executive vice president of NTN Communications. "We`re in a society where people just don`t want to be spectators, they want to be involved. That`s the market we`re aiming at."

However, the economics of the thing haven't really taken off, advancing at some times, retreating at others.

Steve Perille would be about 50 years old now. I began wondering what he was doing. I did find a Steve Perille from the Chicago area on LinkedIn, but he did not list NTN as one of his former employers. This Mr. Perille started performing business development for a staffing service in 1988, and continues in that industry today. If this is the same Steve Perille, then he would have left NTN a few months after the Chicago Tribune article was written.

Probably a good move.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My first (I think) blog post about NTN Buzztime was written nearly a decade ago

Today I am celebrating my ten-year anniversary of blogging. In doing so, I'm going back into the archives and pulling up some old posts that I wrote about various topics.

I ran across a July 2, 2005 Ontario Empoblog post about NTN Buzztime that quoted from the buzztime.com website - from a page that no longer exists (or perhaps was moved). It tells a bit of the history of NTN Buzztime, including the company's first game - and no, it wasn't Countdown. Here's what I grabbed from NTN Buzztime's own website:

NTN Communications is the brainchild of two executives from the Houston Oilers football team. The spark that lit the fire in the two men - Don Klosterman, executive vice president and general manager of the Oilers, and Dan Downs, ticket and stadium manager -- came in 1967. They conceived of an interactive strategy game that fans could play during a live football game.

They obtained a copyright, but for the most part the idea stayed in their heads for the following 15 years. Technology finally caught up with them in the early 1980s. The pair decided to create their own interactive broadcasting company and offer QB1 -- their interactive football strategy game -- as its first product.

Klosterman and Downs, along with several new partners, incorporated NTN Communications in April 1983. The NFL granted NTN a license a year later. By January 1986, players in 12 locations played QB1 during the Super Bowl.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Olive Pit in Orange, California, revisited...on national TV

Even though the Olive Pit in Orange is only a few miles from my work, I haven't been there in years.

The last time that I mentioned the Olive Pit was in a 2008 post - and even then, my last visit was in the past.

(And I still remembered what had happened when I visited the Olive Pit in Orange for the first time in several months, only to discover that they had dropped trivia in favor of poker.)

While I was staying away from the Olive Pit, it turns out that other people were staying away also - until the people from Bar Rescue showed up.

Bar Rescue is one of those shows where an expert goes into a business, cusses people out, and gets the owner and employees to fix the business. And that's what happened at the Olive Pit.

Games (or lack thereof) weren't really a topic in the show, other than the relocation of some of the coin-operated games. At the end of the show, the place had been renamed "The O.P.," food and bar service was much better, and the original owner had been encouraged to retire and let his daughter run the place.

However, The O.P. is no longer running any type of Buzztime game, according to Buzztime's location list. But it rates halfway decently on Yelp - note that some of the ratings were from before the Bar Rescue makeover, but that some of the post-makeover ratings aren't five star.

But if you're in Orange and want to play Buzztime trivia, the O.P. is out, and Scottie's Smokehouse is out, so head down to Danny K's. (I've actually played there a couple of times; it's sort of the Buzztime mecca in Orange.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

I think I need a small vacation...so I'll go to Juneau

Happy 2013! Yes, this is my first post in this blog for 2013. And this post has little to do with NTN Buzztime.

If you read my Empoprise-MU music blog, you may have seen my post about a mysterious Zoominfo entry that I discovered.

Although it took me some time, it turned out that this Zoominfo entry was automatically generated in 2009, based upon an Empoprise-MU post about the song "Wichita Lineman."

The Zoominfo entry included a number of interesting board memberships for this John Bredehoft from Wichita. I was able to decipher most of them.

Board Memberships and Affiliations

Founder
Empoprise-MU News

Founder
Empoprise-BI News

Founder Atlantic City.

Founder
It's...just...a...tool...

Founder
NTN Buzztime

Founder
Repeat.

Founder
Triangle Club

I'm sure that the principals at NTN Buzztime would be pleased to know that I (or, more accurately, my Kansas counterpart) actually founded their company.

But one of the entries that threw me off was the "Triangle Club" entry. Had I written something about former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson?

Eventually, I figured that one out also. It turns out that I briefly wrote about the Triangle Club in a 2009 Empoprise-NTN blog post. This is a Buzztime site in Juneau, Alaska. I was no longer able to find the 2008 Juneau Empire story about the Triangle Club Bar, but I did find the bar's website, which includes a history of the Triangle Club Bar.

The Triangle Club has offered continuous service at it's (sic) historic location for over 60 years. In 1947, Joe Thomas, Sr. purchased the club from Wilbur Burford and Emmett Botelho. Following in his father's footsteps Joe Thomas, Jr. continued to perpetuate the Triangle's tradition by offering a warm friendly haven for sports enthusiasts and a refuge from the Taku winds. This excellent tradition continues today under the guidance of Joe Jr's daughter Leeann Thomas. The Triangle Club still offers the same hospitality today as it did 2 generations ago, making it one of the truly unique establishments in downtown Juneau....

The club's diverse clientele has included everybody from governors to carpetbaggers, making it an inviting "watering hole" to exchange tall tales and solve the world's problems. Equally entertaining from the club's vantage point is the "people traffic" on Front and Franklin Streets, arguably one of the best places in town to enjoy a drink and a good view.

I don't know if then-Governor Sarah Palin ever visited the Triangle Club Bar, but conversations at the bar could switch to state business in a snap:

The ‘Jewels of the North’ stood in the crook of the horseshoe shaped end of Juneau’s Triangle Club’s bar regaling the assembled Sages with the tale of her encounter with four bears behind the back porch of her downtown condominium....

The ‘Jewels of the North’ had broken up a bear fight. Governor Sarah’s got nothing on her.

The Stroller offered up this observation for the consideration of the Sages and they agreed with him before the conversation disintegrated into a spirited debate about Governor Sarah and the validity of the Alaska Legislature’s report concluding she had violated Alaska’s Executive Ethics Act by applying illegal pressure on the Commissioner of Public Safety, and his department, to fire her former brother-in-law as a state trooper....

In addition to governors and carpetbaggers, the Triangle Club Bar also attracts gamers. The Triangle Club is still an NTN Buzztime site. As of today, the Triangle Club is leading all competitors in the Tri-State Topix Challenge, although the Ram Restaurant in Puyallup is a close second.

I wonder if there are a lot of Glen Campbell fans in Puyallup.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lunchtime trivia - when 6,915 is better than 6,988

I have been able to play NTN Buzztime trivia at least one day a month over the last several months, and that has resulted in some noticeable improvements in my scores. I generally play Lunchtime Trivia, which consists of seven questions with a maximum 1,000 points per question. Therefore, if you answer all questions correctly AND quickly, you can get a perfect score of 7,000.

Because of recent gameplay, I've reached the point where a score below 5,000 is disappointing. Between August 20 and September 18, I've scored above 6,000 three times.

What this means is that I was able to answer every question correctly, although sometimes it took me a little while to get the correct answer. (For those who are unfamiliar with NTN Buzztime trivia games, most games allow you to change your answer, and most games eventually provide a hint about the correct answer. In these games, which include Lunchtime Trivia, it is therefore very possible to get more than one point on every single question.)

I've also noticed that ability to score well in trivia correlates with one's mood. If I'm stressed out about something, I know better than to try to play trivia, because I know that I won't do well.

Apparently I was rather unstressed yesterday.

I arrived at Lamppost Pizza in (west) Yorba Linda in time to play the noon Lunchtime Trivia game. I ended up doing OK - not spectacular, but not embarrassing, with a score of 5,262.

The second game was disappointing by my recent standards; I only score 4,875.

Then the 12:30 game started, and I was doing pretty well. I got three perfect scores in a row (again, answering correctly and quickly). And then I ended up with five perfect scores in a row.

That's when I realized that I had the possibility to do really well during this game.

Of course, things can change in an instant, I could blow the next two questions, and my perfect 5,000 for five questions could become another 5,262 for seven questions. But I went ahead and played the sixth question - and got it right.

At this point I was pleased because no matter what, I was going to get a score above 6,000. Perhaps only a 6,100 or something like that if I blew the seventh question, but it was still going to be a good score. I didn't remember it at the time, but I had scored 6,523 at Out of the Park Pizza on May 14. I knew that I had scored around that range, but certainly not near the 7,000 level.

Then the seventh question came up - and I received 988 points.

6,988. I was definitely happy. National rankings are not completely available at the time of the game, but I figured that I had a very good chance of making the top 3. There was a class of high school students at Lamppost at the time, and they probably had no idea why I was taking pictures of the score on the TV screen. I posted that picture, and others, to my personal Facebook account.

And then I decided that I'd play one more game.

I could lie to you and say that my 12:45 game resulted in a final perfect score of 7,000. But I guess I should tell you the truth - I only scored 6,915. I guess that when you're on a roll, you're on a roll. On my Facebook account, I joked and said that I should have played the lottery.

As I mentioned, national rankings are not available at the time that the games are played. So I didn't realize until this morning that my 6,988 score was NOT among the top three scores for the 12:30 game. I placed fourth.

But my lower 6,915 score at 12:45 WAS among its game's top three scores. Specifically, I'm now a silver medal holder.

My complete results from yesterday:

Of course, this probably means that I won't even crack a 3,000 score the next time that I play. But for me, it was an enjoyable afternoon.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Trivia player Bill Kline (well, he was playing in 2003)

It's interesting to see the background of people who play Buzztime games.

While searching for some old information on NTN Buzztime, I ran across this website, last updated in January 2003, for a company called B K Services. At the time, the company was located in Miramar, Florida. It is apparently still a going concern (at least as far as the state of Florida is concerned).

In addition to discussing the services of B K Services (custom computer software, installation, telephone systems, etc.), the website tells you about B K himself - Bill Kline. Here's the portion that mentions the then-NTN Network, among other interests:

I play paddleball, raquetball, and handball at least once a week. I play the NTN trivia games every once in a while at a local TGIFridays or Nightclub. I've been playing Everquest since March of 2000. I am Octa the Barbarian Shaman and Gosx the Iksar Warrior on the Rodcet Nife server.

In addition, Kline enjoys all types of music and records his own (hmm), and listens to Art Bell and George Noory.

Sounds like someone who would do well in a lot of trivia categories.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bugs on a bench in the tropics, continued

Now that yesterday's Lunchtime Trivia scores have been formally posted on the NTN Buzztime site, I can provide more details about the bug that I discussed yesterday.

If you didn't see that post, suffice it to say that I was playing Lunchtime Trivia at a site and answering questions, but the answers weren't being registered. At one point, I was even told that I had received 1,000 points for an answer, resulting in a total score of...849.

Well, now the scores have been posted at the buzztime.com website, and it appears that I was not credited for certain answers. In addition, according to the information at the website, I only answered three out of the seven questions in each of the two games that I played.

The first thought is that the Playmaker was malfunctioning. However, when I was answering the questions, the Playmaker would provide me with the message that I had answered with option whatever, and that I would get 1,000 points if the answer was correct.

So something happened between the time that I answered the question at the Playmaker, and the time that the answer was received (or not received) by the computer server at the bar.

Mystifying.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More on the Tropical Trivia Giveaway

In a previous post, I mentioned NTN Buzztime's "Tropical Trivia Giveaway." More information on the giveaway can be found here.

This promotion is only taking place in two locations - Southern California and Milwaukee. Southern California locations include:

Clancy's Clubhouse, 2191 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim
Deane's Bar & Thrill, 8108 San Bernardino Rd, Rancho Cucamonga
Fat Face Fenner's Fishack, 53 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach
Lamppost Pizza, 10084 Adams Ave, Huntington Beach
Lamppost Pizza, 10130 Warner Ave, Fountain Valley
Out of the Park Pizza, 5638 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim
The Bench Sports and Grill, 3159 Yorba Linda Blvd, Fullerton

13 locations are participating in the Milwaukee area. See the list here.

Bugs on a bench in the tropics (an odd NTN Buzztime bug)

It had so much promise.

I recently received an email from NTN Buzztime announcing its "Tropical Trivia Giveaway," which awards prizes to select registered Buzztime players who play at certain locations between August 15 and September 15. The email listed seven locations, including one near my work that I had never visited before - The Bench Sports Bar and Grill in Fullerton, California. The bar had also announced the contest on its Facebook page, which was a good sign.

About The Bench itself - a nice place, with lots of TVs for sports and the like, but the lunches are pricier than at other NTN Buzztime locations in Orange County, including Lamppost Pizza in west Yorba Linda, the previously mentioned Out of the Park Pizza (which is also participating in the Tropical Trivia Giveaway promotion), and the late lamented Scottie's Smokehouse.

While playing Lunchtime Trivia, however, I ran into an odd bug. I'd enter an answer on my Playmaker, the answer would be marked as correct...but I wouldn't get any points for the answer.

Here's an example. I received 1,000 points (the maximum) for this answer, resulting in a total score of...849.

Something (literally) doesn't add up.

Perhaps the scores will be corrected on NTN's servers by the time they are finally registered, but as of now the scores for my two games were 2,253 and...well, less than 2,000. I didn't even bother to write the last score down.

This obviously wasn't a network-wide malfunction - during the first game that I played, at least one person got a perfect 7,000 score.

Has anyone else encountered a bug like this?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Road Tips Obituary for Jim Mitchell

I ran across this in my Google Reader feed:

Jim and I had a lot in common - music, audio, food, drinking, NTN Buzztime trivia when we were in bars that had the NTN trivia. We had the same sense of humor, looking at things a little differently and always finding the fun in bad situations. We commiserated about the audio business and how it has changed and not for the better over the past few years. And we helped each other out with leads or information when we could.

Jim was Jim Mitchell, a friend of the Road Tips writer who recently passed away. Here's some more about Jim, which probably indicates why he was interested in NTN Buzztime trivia:

When I began to work with Audio Etc. in 1995, I joined Jim and our colleague, Randy, in Los Angeles for some manufacturer training sessions as my first duties for the company. Then we took a day to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping along the way at Hearst Castle, Nepenthe in Big Sur, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park with its stunning views and large Redwood trees, and had dinner in Monterrey on Cannery Row before going on to San Francisco for the night. That was a killer trip - not only for the things we did and saw, but for how it completely burnt us out from the drive.

More here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Michael Bush out at NTN Buzztime

You know how press releases often say nothing? This is an example.

CARLSBAD, Calif., June 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- NTN Buzztime, Inc. (NYSE MKT: NTN) today announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Michael Bush, has announced his resignation as Chief Executive Officer effective June 4, 2012. Mr. Bush will serve the remainder of his term on the Board of Directors which ends June 8, 2012, the date of the company's annual meeting of stockholders. Mr. Bush has tendered a resignation from the Board of Directors, effective immediately following such annual meeting.

The Board has established an Interim Committee of the President to oversee day-to-day operations. Initially appointed to the Interim Committee are Jeff Berg, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Kendra Berger, Chief Financial Officer, and Vladimir Edelman, Chief Content Officer. The Company is currently evaluating qualified candidates to serve as its next Chief Executive Officer.

The press release goes on with a fake quote attributed to the Chairman of the Board, but there's really no point in reproducing that part of the release. You can read it here if you're so inclined.

The last time that I mentioned Bush in this blog was last October, at the time that Stump! Trivia was acquired. However, NTN has suffered net losses each of the last four quarters:

Period ending March 30: (1,045)

Period ending December 30, 2011: (1,039)

Period ending September 29, 2011: (837)

Period ending June 29, 2011: (984)

(all numbers in thousands of US dollars)

As of this afternoon, Bush hasn't updated his LinkedIn page, though I doubt that he's shown up at Kelly temp services this week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

@translucentd helps @buzztime find a non-functioning Fenton

I have been fond of saying that the best corporate social media presence doesn't mean anything if it isn't backed up by systems that can do something with the information learned.

On the other hand, if you don't have a social media presence, you aren't going to learn anything.

For example, let's take the @Buzztime Twitter account. It monitors all things Buzztime, as I recently discovered. But recently it caught something important - a Buzztime subscriber that, for whatever reason, wasn't providing Buzztime to its customers.

David Graham, Twitter account @translucentd, advertises himself as a "trivia geek" (among other things). On April 28, he tweeted:

Trying to play @Buzztime at the local BW3 and 2nd week in a row no network connection #boo

It took a couple of days (April 28 was a Saturday), but @Buzztime eventually picked up the tweet and replied.

@TranslucentD Are you playing on your mobile playmaker?

This is a good question, by the way, because mobile playmakers sometimes lose connections - something I just encountered earlier this week when my "Jim Morrison" answer didn't go through. (I solved the problem by temporarily turning off wi-fi and using the cellular connection instead.)

Graham replied:

@Buzztime I tried both, the problem is that it doesn't appear the location is connected to the network. No national scores or game.

Buzztime then asked:

@TranslucentD What is the name of the location?

Graham's reply:

@Buzztime Buffalo Wild Wings in Fenton, Michigan

Since the tweet was out there for everyone to see, I got curious about the site. You see, if you go to the Buzztime.com website, you can see the game history for every game at every site. This is useful, for example, to see if anyone ever plays Lunchtime Trivia at a particular site you want to visit. It also helps to discover whether a restaurant has closed.

And it can also tell you if there's some type of problem with the Buzztime network connection. For example, if you go to the Buzztime web page for Fenton's Buffalo Wild Wings and look at the Buzztime Trivia game history, this is what you see (at least as of May 2):


Yes, that's right - no games since February 12. And it's the same with Texas Holdem and Countdown.

Now I'll admit that I don't know if Buzztime has tried to contact the Fenton BWW to find out what's going on. But at least they're now aware of the problem.

And a question for David Graham - how far is Grand Blanc from Fenton?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why am I writing about Foursquare in the Empoprise-NTN NTN Buzztime blog?

I had an interesting day playing Buzztime Trivia on Wednesday.

I was back at Out of the Park Pizza, and I did better than I did the last time I played there.

But more importantly, I did not use a Playmaker to play Lunchtime Trivia. Instead, I used NTN Buzztime's Android application to play the games. You just log in, tell it which nearby venue you're playing at, and then just play. One of the staff members mentioned that he has the iPhone version of the application, and that works well for him also.

So yes, I was Androiding around at Out of the Park Pizza today. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the restaurant in Foursquare so I couldn't check -

...oh...

...wait a minute...

...did I just say "Foursquare"?

Foursquare, the service about which I posted an angry rant on January 15, 2011? You know the rant - the one that was entitled Become a Foursquare mayor. It only costs $2000? The one that included statements such as

The mobile web was a workaround for those who wanted to cheat, but that workaround has now apparently been closed.

As has the ability for mobile web users to legitimately earn mayorships.

Of course, I could still earn Foursquare mayorships if I wanted to. All that I have to do is buy a high end smartphone with GPS enabled, and also buy the high-end service plan that service providers force smartphone users to buy. Lay out $2000 or more, and I can continue to earn mayorships.

It's not worth it.


A little over a year later, I amended my boycott somewhat, since using a netbook at a Starbucks location allows you to specify your location.

But on Wednesday, I used Foursquare to check in to a non-Starbucks location.

And actually I've been checking into several non-Starbucks locations over the last few days.

More later, but I figured that I'd raise the topic again in the NTN Buzztime blog. I like the Android application, by the way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to get 102 MILLION Players Plus points (CARSONRAIDER1 a/k/a GAMBIT)

I am by no stretch of the imagination a top NTN Buzztime player. After participating in the game for over a decade, and after having been a registered player for several years, I've only earned about 200,000 Players Plus points. A respectable total, but not a leading total.

So I began wondering who had the highest Players Plus score on the entire NTN Buzztime network.

It turns out that the player with this honor is CARSONRAIDER1 a/k/a "GAMBIT." This player, as of March 20, has amassed a total of 102,978,000 lifetime Players Plus points.

How does one amass over 102 MILLION Players Plus points? Well, I took a look at GAMBIT's gameplay on February 25 to find out.

On that day, GAMBIT went to Big Wangs Hollywood for some lunchtime fun. A LOT of lunchtime fun.

GAMBIT arrived at Big Wangs at 12:30, just in time for a couple of Lunchtime Trivia games (5,911 and 5,298).

But GAMBIT didn't stop when lunch was over. There were a couple of 15-minute Buzztime Trivia games to play, followed by a half hour of Countdown.

All in all, GAMBIT played Buzztime games for 1 1/2 hours.

Well, that's 1 1/2 hours at Big Wangs.

You see, later in the day GAMBIT showed up at Mr Bs in Los Alamitos (GAMBIT's home location) and played trivia from 4:45 pm to 9:30 pm - an additional 4+ hours of trivia play, or nearly 6 hours' total trivia play on February 25.

Louis Gray is fond of saying that sleep is unproductive and a waste of time. I wonder how he feels about trivia.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It helps when the site staff knows the game (Out of the Park Pizza revisited)

I had a chance to return to Out of the Park Pizza in Anaheim on Monday (I was there in February and play Lunchtime Trivia. More people are apparently playing at lunch now, which is a good sign.

But the best sign (to me anyway) was that the staff was playing along. In fact, one staff member (no, not the waitress/cashier/bartender/owner I saw before) actually helped me get one of the answers right - something that contributed to my 6,597 (out of 7,000) score in my last game.

Of course, it's in the staff's interest to make sure that people perform well in the game. Not only does this help ensure that they'll come back, but it also puts their bar/restaurant higher on the leaderboard that's displayed to all the other sites. So if someone at a low-scoring facility sees that a nearby place has a high score, that person might just visit the other place next time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sports IQ

I finally played Sports IQ during a visit to Tequila Hoppers in Upland last night.

An interesting game, especially since one of the rounds does not feature numeric answers.

In this round, you are given a question, and then are given the answer as a series of words in which the letters are not revealed. (Think Wheel of Fortune.) You need to supply two of the letters. As time passes, some of the other letters are revealed.

So, for example, you might be asked a golf question and get an answer such as

_*_ _ _ * _ _ _ _ _

in which you have to supply the starred letters.

After a few seconds, the answer might look like this:

R * _ Y _ * I _ _ O _

In this case, you would need to enter "OC" on your Playmaker (or equivalent).

In the end, I did well in the game. And it was nice to be back at Tequila Hoppers, especially during their extended happy hour - small pizza and a 25 oz beer for a little over $10 isn't bad.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Out of the Park Pizza

In a January 2 post, I mentioned that I was looking for a new place to play in Orange County.

a search of the Site Finder reveals a new (to me) NTN Buzztime location, Out of the Park Pizza in Anaheim Hills. Oddly enough, however, as of January 1 no one had played Lunchtime Trivia there. And their website doesn't mention NTN Buzztime at all - not a good sign.

So anyways, I was driving to lunch on Tuesday. Vaguely remembering where Out of the Park Pizza was, I drove out that way and found the place.

And I must confirm that Lunchtime Trivia apparently is not popular there. I was the first person to play Lunchtime Trivia in the month of February.

But that's the only negative thing I can say about the place. When I asked for a Playmaker, the waitress/cashier/bartender/(possibly the owner) immediately knew what I was talking about. She initially grabbed one that was only partially charged, and promised to check the charger for a fully charged Playmaker, which she found. I had to promise not to beat her if she started playing, and she mentioned that it's easy to beat the players at night because they're drunk. And there were several screens showing trivia, which is always a plus. I've been to places where the staff doesn't know what you're talking about, where you have to beg for a screen, and where the Playmakers die on you - no such problems at Out of the Park Pizza.

Out of the Park Pizza is at the Imperial Highway exit off the 91 (head north, turn left on La Palma, and turn left at the next light). Their Facebook page is here.

Oh, and my Lunchtime Trivia scores - 1000 (for the 7th question only), 5133, and 5304. The waitress/cashier/bartender/(possibly the owner) probably would have beaten me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

So does that mean I can't play against RoadDog?

I missed this message first time around, but I caught it subsequently. Here's an excerpt from a January 26 NTN Buzztime post:

The first fantastic game-changing difference for Buzztime and The Buzztime Nation moving forward is that there will be a Buzztime East Network and a Buzztime West Network. I’ll let that mind-blowing news sink in....

With Buzztime splitting into two Networks (East and West) everyone in the Buzztime Nation will now have convenient game times. The Networks will be split by time zones in the following way:

•East: CT, ET, AT Time Zones
•West: HI, AK, PT, MT Time Zones

Buzztime’s premium games will now start during our “primetime” hour (more on that next week). Your favorite games will now run from:

•East: 7:30pm ET/6:30pm CT - 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT
•West: 7:30pm MT/6:30pm PT - 9:30pm MT/8:30pm PT

Note: Premium content for Canada will begin one hour earlier Tuesday through Friday.


Now there are certainly advantages to the new setup, as the post points out. When people in Halifax, Nova Scotia are getting off work, people in Honolulu, Hawaii haven't even eaten lunch yet.

But the biggest disadvantage to this is that Buzztime no longer allows continental competition. Certainly you will still get to compete with people who may live hundreds or thousands of miles away from you...but it's still a slightly smaller network.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Scottie's Smokehouse R.I.P.?

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was playing a lot at Scottie's Smokehouse in Orange, California - so much, in fact, that I made the National Top 100 list for Lunchtime Trivia.

I continued to play at Scottie's Smokehouse in November, including the November 16 12:15 pm PST game. I scored 4429. I didn't know it at the time, but that would be the last game that I would play there.

But it wouldn't be the last game anyone would play there. NTANLN played Lunchtime Trivia on November 23, and regular DDOOWW played Buzztime Trivia on November 26.

Four days later, on November 30, I showed up at Scottie's for lunch, and found the place was closed. I made sure that it wasn't a Tuesday, then drove off to eat at Polly's (which does not have NTN). I thought nothing of it at the time.

I didn't make it down to Scottie's in December because I was very busy on a proposal and couldn't spare the time to drive down to Katella for lunch. And after that proposal shipped, I was on vacation.

On New Year's Day I was reading various Yelp reviews, and ended up looking at the reviews for Scottie's. The average of the reviews is high, but I found myself looking at some of the negative reviews, curious about why they were negative. As I made it through the few one-star reviews and and got to the two-star reviews, I ran across this December 4 review from Cheryl L. in Orange:

Well whatever any of you think about Scotties, good or bad.......They have shut there doors for good as of wed 11/30/2011........packed up in the middle of the night and left........not very professional no wonder you had to shut your doors, Scottie you are great but you need to keep your wife at home she has no business sense......If you open another keep her at home with kid.

I then re-sorted the reviews by date. John K's 12/16 review tipped me off about an Orange County Register article. Fast Food Maven Nancy Luna received an e-mail from Darren Scott. Part of the e-mail read as follows:

After much consideration and reflection, my wife and I have decided to close the restaurant and pursue other interests. Among the factors that influenced our decision, the main one was that we lost sight of what was most important to us. That was, our contact with our friends and guests in the restaurant. We found ourselves dealing with non-food-related issues, instead of talking with our clients, improving our service and food quality. We used to receive a lot of input and suggestions from our guests on a daily basis. That was lost when we moved to the bigger place.

The closure seems to have been without notice. Luna notes that there was an overdue rent sign on the door, indicating the Scott may not have communicated with his landlord. And as of January 1, NTN Buzztime apparently hasn't been informed about the closure either, since I was still able to access competition pages for the venue.

However, a search of the Site Finder reveals a new (to me) NTN Buzztime location, Out of the Park Pizza in Anaheim Hills. Oddly enough, however, as of January 1 no one had played Lunchtime Trivia there. And their website doesn't mention NTN Buzztime at all - not a good sign.

Oh well, there's always TGI Fridays out in Yorba Linda. And I know there's an active group of Lunchtime Trivia players there.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Got a couple of quarters?

The following press release was issued on December 20:

CARLSBAD, Calif. , Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- NTN Buzztime, Inc. (NYSE AMEX: NTN) today announced that it filed a registration statement on Form S-3 with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a rights offering to existing stockholders to purchase up to 12,903,226 shares of its common stock at a subscription price of $0.31 per share. The Company is seeking to raise up to $4 million in the rights offering.

The Company is seeking to raise capital to support its ongoing operations and pursue its growth and product development strategies. The board of directors believes providing existing stockholders the right to purchase shares through a rights offering is the most efficient, fair and equitable approach to raising this capital at this time.

The Company will distribute to its stockholders as of the record date, non-transferable subscription rights, each of which will include (i) a basic subscription privilege and (ii) an over-subscription privilege that entitles the holder (other than Matador Capital Partners, L.P. and its affiliates), if such holder exercises its basic subscription privilege in full, to subscribe to purchase a portion of the shares not purchased by other stockholders at the same subscription price per share, subject to certain limitations.

In connection with the rights offering, the Company also entered into an investment agreement with Matador Capital Partners, L.P., whereby Matador has agreed to purchase at the subscription price, between $1.0 million and $2.0 million worth of the shares of the Company's common stock not subscribed for and purchased by holders upon exercise of their subscription rights. The exact number of shares within the foregoing range will be determined by Matador in its discretion. Mr. Jeffrey A. Berg , one of the Company's directors, is the managing member of the general partner of Matador. As of the date hereof, Matador and Mr. Berg collectively beneficially own approximately 10.5% of the Company's common stock. As stockholders as of the record date, Matador and Mr. Berg will have the right to purchase shares under their basic subscription privilege, but they will not have the right to exercise their over-subscription privilege. Therefore, depending on the collective level of investment by all existing stockholders in connection with the rights offering, Matador and Mr. Berg may, based on their common stock ownership as of the date hereof, potentially invest up to $2.4 million into the company in connection with the rights offering (i.e., up to $2.0 million under the investment agreement and approximately $419,000 pursuant to the exercise of their basic subscription privilege).

This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state. The rights offering, which is expected to be launched immediately following the effectiveness of a registration statement relating to the offering, will be made only by means of a prospectus. The record date for the distribution of the subscription rights and the expiration date of the rights offering will be included in the final prospectus for the rights offering.

About Buzztime

NTN Buzztime, Inc. (NYSE Amex: NTN) is a leading bar and restaurant social entertainment and integrated marketing platform. Trusted by 3,900 bars and restaurants in North America since 1985, Buzztime integrates trivia, card and sports games with in- and out-of-venue messaging and communication tools. With over 2,100,000 registered consumers and nearly 50,000,000 games played each year, Buzztime players spread the word and invite friends and family to their favorite Buzztime location to enjoy an evening of fun and competition. With Buzztime entertainment and marketing solutions, bars and restaurants attract new customers, turn casual visitors into regulars, and give guests a reason to stay longer. For the most up-to-date information on NTN Buzztime, please visit www.buzztime.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter. To get Buzztime for your bar or restaurant, visit www.getbuzztime.com.

Forward-looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements, including statements relating to the completion of the rights offering and the Company's intended use of any proceeds it receives from the rights offering. All of these forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions made by the Company's management that, although it believes to be reasonable, are inherently uncertain. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, economic, competitive, governmental and technological factors outside of the Company's control that may cause its business, strategy or actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties may include, among other things: completion of the proposed rights offering, including satisfaction of the conditions to Matador's obligations under the investment agreement, adverse economic conditions, failure of customer and/or player demand, lower market acceptance or appeal of both existing and new products and services by particular demographic groups or audiences as a whole, termination of partnership and contractual relationships, the impact of competitive products and pricing and technical problems or outages and other factors described under "Risk Factors" in the preliminary prospectus included as part of the registration statement on Form S-3 that the Company filed in connection with the rights offering and in its periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission from time to time. Given these risks and uncertainties, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events, and changes in expectation or otherwise.

COMPANY CONTACT:
Kendra Berger
Chief Financial Officer
NTN Buzztime, Inc.
(760) 438-7400

CCG CONTACT:
Mark Collinson
Partner
CCG Investor Relations
(310) 954-1343

Friday, December 2, 2011

Brian Reich liked the game so much, he bought the service (apologies to Victor Kiam)

I've previously talked about NTN Buzztime's marketing efforts toward bars and restaurants. Briefly, its sales pitch is that establishments who buy NTN Buzztime attract customers who stay longer, thus spending more money. The hope is that the increased revenue offsets the cost of buying the NTN Buzztime service.

But some people discover the benefits later.

NTN Buzztime has a website, http://www.getbuzztime.com/, that is specifically dedicated to pitching its benefits to eating and drinking establishments. Visitors can learn about the service, play a sample game, and read case studies, such as the case study (PDF) for Jilly's in Ellicott City, Maryland. It begins as follows:

Brian Reich, owner of Jilly’s Ellicott City, started playing Buzztime at neighboring restaurants. His love of the product motivated him to bring the addictive fun and compelling games that Buzztime offers in HIS restaurant.

The case study talks about the increase in visitors (sadly, without mentioning any specific dollar increases in revenue). But that may not matter, since the case study concludes as follows:

Best of all? Brian Reich can play Buzztime whenever he wants.

Jilly's has had trivia for over four years now (the first review dates from March 2007). It seems to be working for them.