Friday, May 30, 2008

Fleming. Michael Fleming.

All's not quiet on the NTN Buzztime front.

Not too long after NTN Buzztime announced Dario Santana's forthcoming departure, they're announcing some other changes:

CARLSBAD, Calif., May 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- NTN Buzztime, Inc.
(Amex: NTN) today announced that former Sony Pictures Entertainment executive
and interactive games pioneer Michael Fleming has been named Chairman of the
Board of Directors and interim Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Fleming, a
Buzztime Board director since November 2001, will assume these positions and
responsibilities effective immediately.

After all of the made-up quotes, the press release continued:

Former CEO Dario Santana has resigned from the Company's Board of

It was also announced that Barry Bergsman, Chairman of the Board since
July 2006, will step down from that position and remain on the Board.

Fleming's chief qualification, other than being around and available, is apparently that he previously served "as the recent Chairman and co-founder of Contendo Vici LLC, a fantasy sports game development and production company." He also founded the Game Show Network and worked for Playboy, ESPN, and a slew of other companies.

Here are excerpts from a 2000 article on Michael Fleming that noted how the Game Show Network was riding the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" wave:

Clenching his fist in celebration, Game Show Network President Michael Fleming looks at the numbers on a piece of paper with a sense of wonder.

They're television ratings from the night before, but have nothing to do with his network. Rather, they indicate another stunningly large audience for ABC's quiz craze, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." For Fleming, that's the next best thing....

In December [1999], the Game Show Network was added to cable systems in 1.8 million homes, nearly double the best month ever in its five-year history. Roughly one-quarter of the nation's television homes have access to the network.

But this little nugget is interesting for NTN Buzztime lovers:

For the future, the Game Show Network is counting heavily on an interactive television world where people will be able to play along with their games at home.

Only a small fraction of viewers now have the digital equipment necessary to do this, but the network is catering to them. "Inquizition" allows contestants at home to compete with players on the show, and win cash prizes.

The network is even going back to the tapes of old game shows to concoct ways viewers can play along. It expects the new games the network develops to all have some interactive element.

For the record, I participated in one of the first experiments in interactive TV. I was living in Portland, Oregon during the summer and fall of 1983, and I had subscribed to cable because my second-hand black and white TV set had a broken tuning dial, and I got tired of changing the channel with pliers. When I wasn't watching Martha Quinn, I remember watching some kind of public access show in which we could use our cable remote controls to vote on something or another.

Hardly anybody voted.

Hopefully Michael Fleming will have better success with interactive TV.

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