Thursday, May 12, 2011

Perhaps someone who calls himself RoadDog may have a perspective on what NTN Buzztime should do

If you've read this blog for a while - kind of difficult, I know, because I post so infrequently here - you've seen some references to RoadDog. Now RoadDog is retired and travels a lot, which gives him the opportunity to play NTN Buzztime games at a wide variety of sites. Back in the 1980s, such a person would be called a "power user."

So if he has an opinion on NTN Buzztime, I tend to listen to it. Here's one that he recently shared:

[W]hat the company shouldn't be losing are the places that have their service and then drop it because so few people are playing.

This is in large part due to NTN's selling their service and then leaving the places to get people playing. Most places don't have any idea how to do this. NTN representatives should work with bar owners and show them the ropes and tricks to get customers playing. This instead of, "Here it is. See ya later."

A big thing they can do is train the bartenders. These folks are the key. On more than one occasion, we've gone into places that we saw had NTN, asked the bartender for a board and that person had no idea what we were talking about.

RoadDog speaks about turnover OF facilities earlier in his post, but by the same token there is also turnover WITHIN facilities. Maybe the NTN rep spent some time with the bartender on duty when the system was first installed, but does that do any good when the night shift bartender comes in? And does that do any good when that bartender leaves and a new bartender is hired?

To be fair, it would be very expensive for NTN reps to visit every one of the thousands of sites every month, or every week, or even every quarter. So how do you provide training to restaurant/bar personnel?

Perhaps the technology could be used for this purpose. NTN games are only available for a portion of the day. Now I have no idea what is broadcast on the NTN channels during off-hours, but if they're not being used at that time, perhaps some training videos could be broadcast. That way when people are cleaning up at 3 in the morning, or setting up at 10 in the morning, NTN has a commercial beaming directly to the staff - "Hey, encourage people to use the games so that they spend more time and more money at your establishment!"

Let's face it - NTN Buzztime has the material.

This video is on YouTube, but when I looked at it, it had less than 500 views. The entire BuzztimeGames channel on YouTube has, as I write this, five subscribers. (I am not one of them.) There should be several thousand subscribers to this account. All these supposedly social-savvy bars should be subscribing to the BuzztimeGames account so that they know how to operate the system for which they're paying big bucks.

Oh, and RoadDog also has some views on NTN Buzztime's new Site Finder. I won't venture an opinion, since I don't have a cool phone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

NTN and BWW reach an agreement. This is news? We'll see.

I never got around to mentioning this, but I guess I should devote some space to a recent announcement:

Thursday, 28 April 2011 00:00
National Sports Grill and Bar Dedicated to Using Buzztime's Restaurant Entertainment and Marketing Platform in its 750 U.S. Restaurants

CARLSBAD, Calif. and MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (April 28, 2011) - NTN Buzztime, Inc. (NYSE Amex: NTN), the leading digital interactive restaurant and bar entertainment network, today announced its multi-year partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. (NASDAQ: BWLD), the national sports grill and bar known for its New York-style chicken wings. Buffalo Wild Wings will utilize Buzztime's out-of-home interactive technology to enhance their Guest experience in their 750 restaurants in 45 U.S. states.

I'll spare you the quotes that the marketing people wrote up and assigned to various executives, but if you want to read them you can go here.

Unfortunately, the press release didn't really spell out the meaning of this. Buffalo Wild Wings and NTN Buzztime have been working together for a long time. Buzztime appears at BWW restaurants. Custom BWW games appear on the NTN Buzztime screens at BWW restaurants. So what's new?

To find out, I turned to the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, which presumably had the inside scoop on all of this.

National sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. has entered into a multiyear partnership with NTN Buzztime Inc. that will bring interactive sports and trivia games to BWW's 750 restaurants nationwide.

Yes! They...uh, they rewrote the press release. Well, they did include, verbatim, one comment written by the marketing geeks in the back room.

(And before the marketing geeks hurl epithets at me, I'm one of you. I know the process. Write the quote, take it to the person who presumably said it, make sure they can live with it, then go to the lawyers.)

So I figured I'd go to the Buzztime website, and I began reading about the Buffalo Wild Wings Pick 'Em Challenge...which occurred last year, before this agreement was signed.

It turns out that Buffalo Wild Wings had an earnings conference call in late April, around the same time that this agreement was announced. However, the big news from the call concerned speculation about the possible effects of an NFL strike on Buffalo Wild Wings' business.

"Disruptions to the regular NFL season have the potential to present a temporary challenge for our business and many others," said Chief Executive Sally Smith on a conference call. "But the more months we have of high sales and low wing prices, the more weeks we'll be able to cover of an NFL season if we end up missing some of those weeks."

The company plans to launch promotional programs on a local level that would encourage Sunday traffic....

Hmm. Perhaps Buzztime can assist in drawing Sunday traffic via other means.

But BWW is right in noting that an NFL strike could adversely affect many businesses. For example, bars could cut costs if business goes down - something that's presumably being discussed in Carlsbad.

And no, the CFL won't pick up the Sunday slack. Most CFL games are played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. However, 2011 U.S. Broadcast information will be finalized in June..