Monday, July 28, 2008

Ken Jennings on NTN Buzztime

I was nosing around in a Google search for NTN Buzztime (I'll confess; I wanted to see if this blog was gaining traction in Google yet) when I ran across a message board at the site

Yeah, that Ken Jennings. Understatement of the bio: "Much to his surprise, Ken's Jeopardy! appearance extended beyond a single game in June...." He ended up winning 74 Jeopardy games before losing 1. (Total haul: $2.52 million.)

Someone started a thread on NTN Buzztime, and Jennings eventually weighed in. Here's some of what he said. Note that these responses were written in June 2006.

Buzztime doesn't get much attention, but it's huge. I've been talking with them on and off about doing some kind of cross-promotional project together, and the data they sent me claims that they have 12,000 screens, 1 million daily "viewers," and 16.5 million annual "players." Obviously there's some wiggle room in those definitions, but it sounds like they have a pretty good claim to be the world's most-played quiz game.

Talking to the hardcore NTN players was interesting, since they're not just your average viewer, perched on a barstool with a beer, casually playing along. The real fans congregate by the dozens and play as teams, competing with other elite bars on the nationwide rankings, and use elaborate strategies for team play. One bar I talked to in DC actually looks for local faces on Jeopardy! and Millionaire, so they can look them up in the phone book and recruit them onto their NTN team.

I guess a cross-promotional project between NTN/Buzztime and Ken Jennings would have been interesting earlier, but now I wonder if anyone knows who Ken Jennings is any more.

And if anyone assumed that Jennings automatically participates in all trivial pursuits, they're wrong.

I was never really a trivia exhibitionist before I went on TV either...I guess I played trivia board games with friends, and college quiz bowl, but those aren't really public pursuits. If I had a pub trivia or NTN team I played with regularly, I'm sure I'd keep that up. But showing up at somebody else's trivia night, with all the expectations that might entail? No thanks. It's odd, but I have to admit I don't have much of a competitive trivia jones anymore. Maybe 75 straight games of Jeopardy are pretty good aversion therapy.

He has a point. I've probably played more than 75 NTN Buzztime games over the years, but it wasn't necessarily that much of a high pressure environment.

P.S. Ken's blog is here.

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