Monday, January 12, 2009

How do you say "NTN Buzztime" in Russian?

I read the blog of Ken Jennings (yeah, the Jeopardy guy) and he's had a couple of posts about Russian trivia.

The first post came out on January 8, and began as follows:

Ilya Ber is an editor for Svoya igra, or “Own Game,” the Russian version of Jeopardy!...

Ilya emailed me out of the blue a few months back to say he liked my book and was working on a Russian translation so his fellow trivia-buff friends in Moscow could enjoy it! I was flattered and surprised, having had no idea that there was a quiz scene of any kind in the former Soviet Union.

Jennings interviewed Ber about the Russian show. This is (part of) what he said:

As far as I can see Svoja igra is the official Russian version of your Jeopardy! Not only de jure (of course it’s a licensed show), but also mentally. And moreover maybe it has some bit of so-called “enigmatic Russian soul.”

During the first several episodes in 1994, players didn’t really want to win or earn money. They got fun by answering questions and helping opponents to find the right answers. They tried to advise with their opponents and prompt them if they could. It was a problem for editors and producers. I didn’t see it myself–I was only twelve in 1994–but my elder colleagues told me about it.

Now times have changed and so have people....

I can’t say that game shows in Russia can compete with soccer or pop-music or cinema, but they have got a rather wide audience. For Svoja igra it is about 3 million people for each episode, if what Gallup says is true (population of Russia is about 140 million). We go on the air twice a week, Saturday and Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

More here, and in the follow-up post here.

So in the future, who knows what this might mean for NTN Buzztime? They have never demonstrated an ability to penetrate any foreign country other than Canada, but perhaps in the future we may see trivia in a Cyrillic font.

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