NBC Greenlights Interactive App-Inspired Trivia Game Show ‘QuizUp’

NBC has ordered 10 episodes of new trivia show “QuizUp,” based on the popular app of the same name. The series pickup marks a continued effort for the network’s push into highly interactive programming.

The show puts in-studio contestants against at-home viewers, who can qualify from anywhere in the country to play in real-time from their mobile devices, to battle with each other in trivia competitions for big prize money. If the in-studio contestant wins eight trivia battles against eight different at-home competitors, they can win up to $1 million, while at-home winners will win the cash prize for their respective round.

“We found that rewarding real interactivity and giving people something to do that doesn’t feel like homework is nonetheless an entertaining and engaging way to be connected to a show,” Paul TelegdyNBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming, tells Variety. “The interaction is substantial, and we think we’ve created an exciting broadcast experience. It has never been done before.”

Launched in 2013, the QuizUp app has over 75 million users and has reached #1 in the App Store rankings in 128 different countries. Telegdy says rather than just a game, the app is almost like a social network connecting passionate players.

“We wanted to create an interactive game show, which is why we needed to partner with QuizApp, which is successful in 128 countries and in multiple languages. We are able to make a cost-appropriate game show on a global basis that has functioning technology,” Telegdy explains.

Further pushing the interactive element, viewers who don’t qualify to participate in the actual show for a chance at money can still play along from home.

“You can play along live as you watch the show, and that is encouraging,” Telegdy says. He adds that unlike other trivia shows, “Even if you’re not the best trivia buff, you can participate and get into the bottom ranking.”

This isn’t NBC’s first time taking a crack at interactive programming. In 2013, the network took a gamble with the Ryan Seacrest-hosted “Million Second Quiz,” which received just modest ratings and did not return after its short initial run.

Telegdy says that “QuizUp,” which will also feature an in-studio host (yet to be cast), applies the positive learnings about audience engagement from “Million Second Quiz,” but is a completely different show, starting with not being broadcast live (the in-studio show is pre-taped). With a laugh, he adds, “And we’re also not doing it on the roof of a building in New York — that won’t get you ratings is what we learned!”

Of the new show, QuizUp founder and CEO, Thor Fridriksson, commented: “QuizUp in America is an exciting next step for us, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner than NBC. In the past five months we’ve completely revamped QuizUp by incorporating social elements and have launched My QuizUp to create an open, user-generated platform. QuizUp in America is bringing engaging, addictive trivia to the masses and we’re incredibly excited about it.”

Though “QuizUp” isn’t live, the audience interaction has a live element with at-home viewers participating in the same trivia at the same time as in-studio players, which can potentially point to high social media buzz the night the show airs. On the note of live programming and trending topics, NBC has had recent success with Neil Patrick Harris’ variety show “Best Time Ever,” which saw an uptick in week two. Long-standing live competition series “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent” and “America Ninja Warrior” also bring social buzz, plus big ratings, to the net.

“QuizUp” comes to NBC via a collaboration with Plain Vanilla Corp., the game studio that created the game QuizUp. The show is created by exec producer Jeff Apploff (“Don’t Forget the Lyrics”) and Wes Kauble, and is produced by Universal Television and Apploff Entertainment.

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