Thursday, March 5, 2009

Expand and Contract - NTN Buzztime changes yet again

Because of my travels, I missed this little tidbit:

NTN Buzztime...announced on Monday that it recently laid off 17% of its staff, and undertaken other cost-cutting measures it expects will put it back into the black by the fourth quarter of 2009.

Carlsbad, Calif.-based NTN also said it named Terry Bateman as CEO; Bateman was formerly CEO of Dick Clark Productions, and has been a board member since November.

RoadDog is worried:

[T]he new CEO looks to be doing the CEO Leapfrog, going from one place to another in rapid succession, never a good sign.

With a new CEO comes a new strategy. First, we have contraction, or concentration:

NTN also said it will now focus on the top 30 designated marketing areas to expand its service in the U.S. and Canada...

At the same time, NTN Buzztime is trying to expand into a new market:

[I]ts Buzztime games are expected to become available online and via mobile devices by the fourth quarter.

We'll see what happens this time around.

Here is the full press release:

NTN Buzztime, Inc. Announces Management and Board Additions, Significant Cost-Cutting Measures and a Major New Business Initiative

CARLSBAD, Calif., March 2/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - NTN Buzztime, Inc. (NYSE Alternext US: NTN) today announced the appointment of a new senior management team to lead the company's aggressive growth strategy to become a fully integrated media business. Additionally, management announced its expectations for the Company to significantly reduce its cash burn during 2009 and to achieve positive cash flow in the fourth quarter. Lastly, the company also announced that two of its Board members, Gary Arlen and Bob Clasen, have resigned from the Board effective February 6, 2009 and February 17, 2009, respectively, continuing the restructuring of the Board that began in August 2008. With the addition of new Board member Mary Beth Lewis, as discussed below, the Board now consists of five members.

Executive appointments

Terry Bateman has been appointed CEO, effective February 2, 2009. Mr. Bateman was appointed to the Company's Board of Directors in November of 2008 and has most recently been serving as the Board's special advisor on the Company's Interim Committee of the President. Mr. Bateman has a strong background in the out-of-home ("OOH") media business. He spent the early part of his career at Whittle Communication, one of the pioneers in OOH, developing and selling new media properties. He was then President of the Marketing Services Division of Snyder Communications, President and CEO of Barton Cotton, a leading direct marketing firm servicing the non-profit market, CMO of the Washington Redskins and CEO of Dick Clark Productions.

Chairman Jeff Berg commented, "Terry is an outstanding executive to lead the transformation of the Company. The Board conducted an exhaustive search which yielded a number of outstanding candidates, however, none offered Terry's depth of experience and success in developing the kind of company we are building at Buzztime. Over the past ten weeks he has worked closely with the Board and the management team to lead an assessment and revision of the Company's business model, along with a restructuring of the company's workforce. These actions have significantly reduced our cost structure and have begun to position us for development of a more integrated media company, with plans for new products and new revenue streams."

Mr. Bateman commented, "I am very excited about the opportunity for this company. Buzztime has a strong foundation in its core business in bars and restaurants along with proprietary games and IP, which provides a great platform to move into digital and mobile and develop a fully integrated media business. We have put together a top-tier management team and product development roadmap, which should yield significant growth over the next couple of years."

The Company has also appointed Michael Arzt as Executive Vice President of Marketing. Mr. Arzt has a strong background in the competitive video game industry, having most recently served, since 2006, as Senior Vice President and General Manager of The World Cyber Games (WCG), at International Cyber Marketing, an affiliate of Samsung Electronics. In this capacity, he established the domestic U.S. headquarters for an online gaming event termed the "Olympics of Video Gaming," driving significant growth in sponsorship acquisition and media sales within the first two years. Approximately 1.7 million gamers from 80 countries participated in last year's World Cyber Games. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Arzt was Vice President, National Sales and Marketing for Live Nation Alliances (formerly Clear Channel Entertainment), where he spearheaded the creation and sales of national music, sports and entertainment marketing partnerships, media assets and customized marketing and licensing programs.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Arzt held executive positions in New York City with Gravity Games, LLC (a joint venture between NBC and Primedia) and Petersen Publishing Company, where he was actively involved in development of some of the action sports industry's early televised competitions, and 3Sixty, Inc. (The Conway Corporation).

Operational plans and expectations

NTN Buzztime also announced that its future growth initiatives in its traditional bar and restaurant sales segment will be concentrated in the top 30 Designated Marketing Areas (DMAs) in the United States plus Canada, in order to focus and gain maximum efficiency from the licensing of its proprietary Buzztime games to owners and operators of hospitality venues such as bars and restaurants, as well as to maximize related media opportunities.

Further, the Company announced that Buzztime games are expected to be available online and via mobile devices by the fourth quarter of 2009, with the intent of creating a fully integrated media platform and experience. Expanding the availability of Buzztime beyond its traditional hospitality venue-based platform is intended to capture new customer segments, to cross-promote venue-based games by online games and vice versa, and to build even greater popularity among the many electronic game enthusiasts than Buzztime has already won in over 20 years as a leader in electronic entertainment.

Finally, the Company announced significant cost-cutting measures as it streamlines and re-focuses its activities. As part of this initiative, in January 2009 the Company laid off approximately 17% of its workforce. Management projects that this and other cost-cutting measures will allow the Company to significantly reduce its cash burn during 2009 and become cash-flow positive in the fourth quarter of 2009 and. SG&A expenses in 2009 are projected to be approximately $5 million less than in 2008. The Company will elaborate more on its strategy and outlook during its Q4 financial results conference call, currently slated for March 19, 2009.

Board Changes

The Company also announced additional restructuring of the Board. Two Board members, Gary Arlen and Bob Clasen, have resigned from the Board. The Company wishes to thank them for their long service and for their assistance with restructuring the Board.

A new addition to the Board is Mary Beth Lewis, who is the former CFO of Fresh Produce Sportswear, Noodles and Wild Oats. At Wild Oats, Mary Beth was CFO during a period when company revenues expanded from $36 million to $850 million. During that period, the Company also raised almost $200 million in private equity and debt, completed its initial public offering and raised almost $100 million in public equity. At Noodles, she helped engineer the growth of the business from 30 restaurants to 100. Ms. Lewis also sits on the Board of Ebags, where she chairs the Audit Committee, and has been a guest lecturer on accounting issues at various universities since 1992. Ms. Lewis will chair the Company's Audit Committee.

About NTN Buzztime, Inc.

NTN Buzztime, Inc., a leader in interactive entertainment for more than 20 years, is based in Carlsbad, CA. Buzztime is distributed in-home and out-of-home across broadband platforms including online, cable TV, satellite TV and in approximately 3,750 restaurants, sports bars and pubs throughout North America. Buzztime entertainment is also available on electronic games and in books. For more information, please visit

Buzztime is a proud member of the OVAB |Out-of-home Video Advertising Bureau.

Buzztime is a registered trademark of Buzztime Entertainment, Inc. and Playmaker is a registered trademark of NTN Buzztime, Inc.

Forward-looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements which reflect management's current views of future events and operations. These statements include statements relating to projected growth, product development and deployment and financial performance. These statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. These risks and uncertainties include the risk of changing economic conditions, risks and uncertainties related to executive hires and staff adjustments; risks and uncertainties related to profitability expectations; risks and uncertainties related to the potential failure of product demand or market acceptance of both existing and new products and services and the impact of competitive products and pricing. Please see NTN Buzztime, Inc.'s recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for information about these and other risks that may affect the Company. All forward-looking statements included in this release are based on information available to us on the date hereof. These statements speak only as of the date hereof, and NTN Buzztime, Inc. does not undertake to publicly update or revise any of its forward-looking statements, even if experience or future changes show that the indicated results or events will not be realized.

# # #

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

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