Friday, February 27, 2009

Empoprise-NTN High Noon - JJ Muldoons (Gaithersburg, MD)

I found out earlier this week that I have to make a business trip to Gaithersburg, Maryland next week. I don't know if my schedule will allow for trivia, but if it does, I've found a place.

The one site review is positive (well, other than the quesadillas).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Empoprise-NTN High Noon - Paddy's Pub (Pahrump, NV)

Well, this one was a challenge.

I figured that I'd continue the Deep Springs College theme that I started in previous posts, and answer the question - if you're a Deep Springs College student and, at the end of a long week, you want to go off to a bar and answer trivia questions about Locke or alfalfa or whatever, where do you go?

(Ignore the fact that California and Nevada have a minimum drinking age of 21. Bear with me here.)

As I've mentioned previously, Deep Springs College is located in Deep Springs, California, a place so remote that Deep Springs' mailing address is actually in Nevada.

Not that this inconvenient truth stopped me from searching for a nearby NTN Buzztime site. Using the NTN Buzztime Site Finder, I tried to find an NTN Buzztime location within 100 miles of Deep Springs, California.

And found nothing.

So does this mean that Deep Springs students are out of luck? No, because, in the words of a student at a fictional educational institution: "Road trip!"

Bishop (42 miles away) obviously isn't the solution, and Beatty (105 miles away) isn't the solution either, but the dedicated Deep Springs triviac can travel to Pahrump (179 miles) and go to Paddy's Pub.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why do you think they call it Buzztime? Actually, no...

This post has nothing to do with Michael Phelps, but what if he found himself in Las Vegas, Nevada on Valentines Day, and what if (for some inexplicable reason) he found himself on the WEST side of town, in an Olive Garden, and he had a wait?

He'd be holding a restaurant paging system.

And if he were waiting at the Olive Garden on Decatur in Las Vegas, the paging device would say "NTN" on the back.

But you won't find any information about this NTN-branded item at the web site. That's because the devices are now marketed by HME Wireless.

An industry leader, HME Wireless, Inc. (formerly NTN Wireless) offers a complete line of reliable onsite messaging solutions to improve efficiency and customer service for a variety of businesses worldwide. In fact, restaurants, hospitals, church nurseries, salons and retail businesses are just a few that have been using our systems to increase sales, productivity and customer satisfaction.

The sale of the division took place in 2007:

CARLSBAD, Calif., March 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- NTN Buzztime, Inc. , a leading developer and distributor of Play Along TV(R) entertainment and technology, today announced that it has closed on the sale of the assets of NTN Wireless Communications, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of NTN Buzztime, Inc., to HM Electronics Inc. (HME), effective March 30, 2007. NTN Wireless generated $6.1 million in revenue in 2006, with adjusted EBITDA (non-GAAP) of $757,000. The Company expects to receive $2.0 million in net proceeds resulting in a gain of approximately $400,000.

"We are forging ahead with our plan to narrow the scope of our business to our core Entertainment Division," commented Dario Santana, CEO of NTN Buzztime. "This asset sale is proof positive that the entire Buzztime management team is focused and intends to follow through with its commitment to increase shareholder value. We believe that our Entertainment Division represents the best opportunity for sustainable long-term growth and profitability, and we continue to position ourselves accordingly. We are working hard towards the execution of our strategic growth plan and look forward to announcing additional milestones as they are met."

Of course, Dario Santana subsequently left.

But now restaurant pager users know why there's no buzz in NTN Buzztime any more.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Empoprise-NTN High Noon - The Sandbar (Lawrence, KS)

Why the Sandbar in Lawrence, Kansas? Because I found this post from January 30.

A few weeks ago when we set up our new wireless network, it wasn't just to let Frank work from the bar (but don't tell him we said that.) The main reason we needed the network is so we could set up the new Buzztime Play Along TV game for our customers to play.

And the site is active. Check out

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Arzt and Bateman get Implu'ed

Trust me...this becomes relevant.

Back in February 2008, a couple of guys started a service called Implu. The blog explains its purpose:

Back on February 5, 2008, my friend Steve and I started implu. The idea was simple: take public financial data, strip out all the financial details, and use it to track executives.

So we built a database and started developing a website.

And they also have a blog that announces website changes. The January 30, 2009 entry included this notation:


This post also includes links to the Michael A Arzt entry and the corporate entry for NTN Buzztime Inc. The corporate entry links to this item:

Item 5.02. Departure of Directors or Certain Officers; Election of Directors; Appointment of Certain Officers; Compensatory Arrangements of Certain Officers.

Effective February 2, 2009, Terry Bateman, currently a member of the Company’s Board of Directors, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of NTN Buzztime, Inc. (the “Company”).

Mr. Bateman, age 52, has served on the Company’s Board since November 1, 2008. Mr. Bateman served as Chief Executive Officer of Dick Clark Productions, a television production company, from June 2007 to February 2008. From September 2006 to June 2007, Mr. Bateman served as interim Chief Marketing Officer of the Washington Redskins, a professional football team. From September 2005 to September 2006, Mr. Bateman served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Barton Cotton, Inc., a provider of integrated direct marketing fundraising services to non-profit organizations, and prior to that, served as its Executive Vice President of Fund Raising beginning in 1998. He also served as President of Snyder Communications’ Marketing Services Division between 1994 and 1997. Mr. Bateman holds a B.S. in Economics from the University of Tennessee

Effective February 2, 2009, the Company entered into an employment agreement with Mr. Bateman. In accordance with the terms of that agreement, Mr. Bateman’s employment is “at will” and he will receive an annual base salary of $375,000. He will be eligible to receive a cash bonus of up to 50% of his base salary, based on achievement of specified corporate performance targets. In connection with the commencement of Mr. Bateman’s employment, the Company has granted Mr. Bateman an option to purchase 1,750,000 shares of the Company’s Common Stock, subject to the terms of the Company’s 2004 Performance Incentive Plan and the standard form of the Company’s stock option agreement for executive employees. Subject to Mr. Bateman’s continued service to the Company, the stock options will vest in 48 equal monthly installments over a period of four years. Mr. Bateman will be entitled to health and life insurance and other benefits generally available to employees of the company. In the event Mr. Bateman’s employment with the Company is terminated without cause, the Company shall pay, as severance pay, an amount equal to the sum of one (1) month of severance for every two (2) months he has been employed up to a maximum of six (6) months calculated at his base salary rate in effect on the date of termination, which shall be payable in substantially equal installments on a bi-weekly basis over the payment period. If Mr. Bateman’s employment is terminated with cause, he will not be entitled to any severance benefits....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Twitter user @trapped considers mobile NTN Buzztime

@trapped tweeted:

Just thought of a great idea. NTN Buzztime trivia for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

For the fun of it, let's assume that @trapped envisioned a competitive network game, rather than a stand-alone single-player game.

Obviously it only makes sense if NTN/Buzztime can monetize the thing...and there are a couple of ways to do that:

  • Sell the application. I don't have an iPhone, so I don't know what the proper price point would be, but presumably some price point could be set that would allow NTN/Buzztime some revenue while simultaneously not barring people from buying the app.

  • Advertising. Yes, I know advertising isn't the be-all and end-all, but they're using it on the bar network, so why not use it during the pauses between rounds? In fact, it may be possible that iPhone advertising may perform better than bar advertising.
Of course, you won't get the revenue from the bars themselves, but perhaps the other two revenue sources will work out.

From there, the main challenges are technical. For example, what do you do in the case of a network drop of a few seconds' time, or even a few minutes' time? These issues can be overcome, however, if NTN/Buzztime perceives the market.

Interesting thought. (And, by the way, I'm going to start following @trapped.)

Comments, we get comments...

I've just been perusing the comments that this blog has received recently.

Last October, I wrote about Boston's Restaurant and Sports Bar in Jacksonville, Florida. This yielded the following two one-line comments:

Airport Road NTN Trivia Tournament

Thursdays 8pm - 2 am

Unfortunately, no links were offered, and I couldn't find any more information via web search - other than the fact that Boston's is opening a location in Fontana, California in June 2009. No idea whether it will have NTN Buzztime or not.

Last December, I briefly discussed various NTN sites in Winnipeg, Manitoba, wondering if the Fox Soccer Report hosts played trivia at any of them. This yielded a response from Jeremy St. Louis, of that same Fox Soccer Report:

You're right.

We have very little time for trivia.

Considering that St. Louis wrote this at the same time that two English Premier League managers (Portsmouth's Tony Adams and Chelsea's Luiz Felipe Scolari) were sacked, I guess he's right.

And I have one other trivia thing that doesn't fall into the category of a Disqus comment, but should be highlighted nevertheless. There is an Empoprises Twitter account (naturally, it's @empoprises), and one of my latest followers is the account @twivria. Try to say that three times fast. As you can guess, it posts trivia questions on Twitter every day, which can be answered at the Twivria web site, A fun pastime for those who are not in bars.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I forgot one thing on Saturday - NTN Buzztime now has a mobile site!

Remember when I went to Tequila Hoppers in Upland on Saturday? When I wrote a wrap-up post about my visit, and about some of the recent changes to NTN Buzztime games, I neglected to mention one gigantic improvement that NTN Buzztime has launched.

First, you need to understand that I use my smartphone a lot. I read stuff on my mobile phone, I write blog posts (such as my first Saturday post) on my mobile phone, I tweet from my mobile phone...let's face it, I do a lot of stuff on my mobile phone.

But for years, if I wanted to find an NTN Buzztime location, I'd have to go to my computer, go to, and use the Site Finder.

Now there's an alternative.

During one of the games that I played (more than likely, one of the games in which Russ was beating me), the NTN Buzztime TV took advantage of a break in the game to announce that there is now an NTN Buzztime mobile site -

So I tried it.

Typing Upland's zip code (91786) into the dialog box, I got the following:

The three buttons on the right allow you to call the location, view the location's prime time game schedule, and view a map.

Frankly, the site is nice even for desktop/laptop use, but for mobile users it makes NTN Buzztime information MUCH more accessible.

For more information on the Buzztime Mobile Site Finder, go here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Time just buzzed right by me (Tequila Hoppers, Feb 7 2009)

If you saw my previous post, you know that I was playing NTN Buzztime Trivia at Tequila Hoppers in Upland, California earlier this afternoon. It turns out that this is the first time that I had an opportunity to play trivia since September 22, 2008, when I played at the Beale St. Bar & Grill at Oracle OpenWorld 2008. Obviously it's been a while since I played, as I'll note a little later.

If you look at the Tequila Hoppers leaderboard, you'll see the top 20 as of today.

1 RUSS 13,310,500
2 LILBIT 9,695,100
3 GARY 9,016,800
4 HONEZ 6,000,700
5 JEFE 3,532,500
6 TC 1,996,000
7 SCOTT 1,573,800
8 FOOZLE 1,533,900
9 BUDMAN 784,000
10 HARFER 744,100
11 DRUIDS 551,600
12 COMON 531,800
13 SHADY 429,200
14 KID 380,800
15 PRLJAM 283,500
16 RDWNGS 194,500
17 OEMPER 187,700
18 AROGTB 171,800
19 GECKO 159,500
20 CUP 119,300

I (under the handle OEMPER) am number 17 on the leaderboard (my play today did not advance me beyond RDWNGS), and RUSS is number 1. As it turns out, RUSS was there this afternoon, and there's a reason he has 13 million points. He beat me in three out of the four games that we played.

As I mentioned earlier, it's been a while since I played...and things have changed a bit.

The first game that I played was Appeteasers, but as I noted previously, it wasn't called Appeteasers today. It's now called Lunchtime Trivia.

Then after Lunchtime Trivia ended, we started a game called Buzztime Trivia. Older users may recall that the old game Countdown was renamed as Buzztime Trivia at one point. But this Buzztime Trivia was a little different.

  • First off, there were only ten questions, rather than fifteen.

  • Second off, the game was only fifteen minutes long, rather than thirty. I had previously commented that NTN Buzztime had a lot of special fifteen minute games, but I didn't realize that even some of their regular games (other than lunchtime games) were also fifteen minute games.

  • Third off, this Buzztime didn't have hints. If you've played the old Buzztime (formerly called Countdown), you'll recall that you'd usually get three hints regarding the answer to the trivia question, and that by the third hint you were guaranteed to figure out the answer so you can at least get a few points. This Buzztime Trivia was more Wipeout-like, which meant that two of the four answers would be removed as the clock wound down, and two would remain. So you'd either get the question, or you wouldn't. Sometimes I didn't.
So after two of these fifteen-minute ten-question Buzztime Trivia games, we got a thirty-minute, fifteen-question game which was now named Countdown. Again.

All in all, though, I had a good time. I want to write a little more about Russ and Tequila Hoppers, but I'll save that for other posts in other blogs.

Catching up with NTN Buzztime at lunchtime

I am at Tequila Hopper's - first time in a while.

Appeteasers has apparently been renamed Lunchtime Trivia.

Only got 2701, but only played 1/2 game.

More later.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Empoprise-NTN High Noon - Kelly ONeils and Shack Waikiki (Honolulu, HI)

So you're in Honolulu for the Pro Bowl, but you're interested in some REAL action.

There are two NTN/Buzztime locations in Honolulu:

Kelly ONeils:

Shack Waikiki:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On NTN Buzztime online communities, part two

Obviously, any discussion of NTN Buzztime online communities is lacking if you fail to mention the official community - namely, the forums at

I'll confess that I don't visit the forums all that often, but obviously other do. When I last visited, the statistics were as follows:

Threads: 12,112,
Posts: 310,073,
Members: 193,489,
Active Members: 10,390

Note that your forums membership is different from your Players Plus membership. Even if you have a Players Plus membership, you still have to register for the forums.

Incidentally, my profile is here. I've changed the referenced blog to this one, which makes sense. I'll probably promote the blog in the forums at some point, but it wouldn't be proper to do so unless I were actively participating in them, I guess.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On NTN Buzztime online communities, part one

You'll recall that on Wednesday, I wrote a post that talked about how to transfer your NTN Buzztime Players Plus points from one location to another. This post, which followed up on a Paul Ryburn post from January 23, included some relevant information on transferring your membership to a new location - for example, if your existing location closes, or discontinues NTN/Buzztime.

It turns out that Paul Ryburn gave a nice mention to this blog on Thursday:

Did you know that there’s an NTN/Buzztime Trivia blog? I didn’t either but found out yesterday, when the Empoprise-NTN blog addressed my issue of transferring my points from a location that closed (Sleep Out Louie’s) to a new location (Calhoun’s). The blog is a good one to bookmark if you’re a fan of the little blue crack boxes.

I love that phrase "little blue crack boxes," by the way.

But Paul's mention of this blog isn't the real story. The real story is the comment that was added to my blog post. It seems that Otto is another little blue crack box addict, and he provided some helpful information regarding points transfer:

As somebody who recently transferred my old points from Sleep Out Louie's to Calhoun's as well, I found a simpler way, but it did require some forethought on my part.

Back when Sleep Out's was still open, I signed up there as well. However, I did something that my friend Paul didn't, which was that I also went on the buzztime web site and signed up as a member there, linked to my own account.

After Sleep Out's closed, I still had my active membership on the buzztime site, even though I didn't use it much. When Calhoun's got the system as well, I went back on their website, logged in, and transferred through that system. The only reason I was able to do this was that I already had my account and did not need to sign up with a new one. Paul could not do this, because he could not put in Sleep Out's as his location for the new account, as it was no longer listed there (having closed a couple years ago).

In fact, I did this transfer from a computer at Calhoun's, and my points appeared there within about 10 minutes. Two trivia games later, my plus points were showing up on the big board.

So word to the wise: if you use buzztime, sign up on the buzztime website with a new account tied to your players plus account, if you have not done so already. Then you won't have any issues transferring the points around in the future.

So you may also want to include Otto's tip in your contingency planning.

And you may want to pay attention to the online communities that provide assistance with NTN Buzztime tips. There's another community that merits attention, but I'm going to save the discussion of THAT community for another post. (If Paul Ryburn is directing people here, perhaps this blog ought to have some semi-regular content.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

uWink - what happened?

NTN Buzztime has its competitors. Some do well, some not so well.

At least in the opinion of Dan, uWink is a fail.

But it seemed to have potential:

Kat took me out for a meal at uWink, which is Nolan Bushnell’s latest business venture. He’s the man who founded Atari, then launched Pizza Time Theater, a.k.a. Chuck E. Cheese. The guy knows about games and restaurants colliding. I got excited when I heard about his plans for an adult gaming eatery two years ago in a Wired article; Nolan spoke of ordering via digital touch-screen menu, then using that same screen to play games with the people at your table and everybody else in the restaurant. That sounded like heaven....


I thought the original article said that the touch-screens were built into the tables, like the Microsoft Surface. Instead, flatpanel screens are bolted onto tabletops....

Aside from non-interactive fare like some 360-degree digital photos and movie trailers borrowed from IGN, many of the actual games were single-player variants on old standards — a solitaire card game, a straight-up Bejeweled clone, a version of Who Wants To Be a Millionare? cleverly retitled Zillionaire. I thought, cool, we’re going to poll other players in the restaurant for lifelines…but no, it’s really just single-player....

At what I guess are standard intervals, the large screens that adorn the walls (which were showing baby photo slideshows and — of course — football) announced that there would be a group game in two minutes; all you had to do to be invited was exit whatever you were playing by then. It didn’t tell you what the game would be, though. We played a “spot the differences between these two photos” game, and an anagram game (twice). It was cool to see my name up on the board, but the games didn’t happen frequently enough....

There were other problems on his December 30, 2008 visit, all of which are chronicled here.

A few days later, Doug and Cara had a slightly better experience:

After we finished dinner we then played a variety of games on the UWink touch screens. The one that we liked the best was Zillionare, which was a “Who Wants to be a Millionare” rip off. Same concept, only you could go to a Zillion dollars. Some people in our party got involved with the trivia game that the entire restaurant was playing. The group games seemed to work very well.

uWink is actually a chain, with locations in Mountain View, Hollywood (& Highland), and Woodland Hills, California.