Here comes Ripkord.tv, another player looking to crash the craze over live-streaming interactive game shows — but the startup’s founders say it’s different from the rest of the field.
Inspired by Twitch and HQ Trivia, Ripkord.tv is aiming to build an interactive entertainment network that blends mobile gaming, live video and TV-style games shows. The company has soft-launched five original shows, which give players the chance to win cash prizes, and is in talks with studios, networks and production companies about launching more.
Ripkord.tv was founded in November 2017 by CEO Todd Peterson and CTO Neil Harris, creators of the daily fantasy esports platform AlphaDraft, which FanDuel acquired in 2015. The company’s offices in Burbank, Calif., overlook the Warner Bros. lot.
“Ripkord is the home for a new wave of content consumption that focuses on interactivity, social recognition, and community,” said Peterson. “This is a platform for launching new forms of social gaming,”
Traditional TV and streaming services like Netflix are passive experiences, he noted. And while Twitch provides interactive features for fans, with Ripkord’s app “you are actually playing the game,” Peterson said. “You’re part of the show.”
Other Ripkord.tv execs include chief revenue officer James M. Smith, former SVP of digital ad sales for Sony Pictures Entertainment and PlayStation and before that VP of ad sales and monetization at Disney; and chief content officer Geremie Camara, former VP of games at Sony Pictures, who was behind the mobile versions of “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune,” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
The startup also tapped as chief creative officer Michael Dietz, an actor and producer who has worked on dozens of TV shows including “The Apprentice,” “The Noise,” “Wipeout” and “Big Brother.” Dietz hosts several of Ripkord.tv’s original shows.
Ripcord.tv players compete to test their knowledge with live game shows, take part in an internet scavenger hunt, or even bet for (or against) each other’s answers to trivia questions, all for real-world cash prizes. The prize pools range from $200 up to $5,000 and will go up as Ripkord.tv grows, Peterson said.
To date, the startup has raised $3 million in funding led by Upfront Ventures, with additional investments by Akatsuki Entertainment Fund, Corazon Capital, gaming-focused Initial Capital, Jon Goldman, managing partner for Skybound Entertainment and partner at Greycroft, Pocket.watch CEO Chris M. Williams, and Paul Heydon, former co-founder and general partner at LVP. Peterson declined to disclose Ripkord.tv’s current headcount.
But are live mobile game shows a flash in the pan? HQ Trivia, the app that kicked off the excitement over the model after its 2017 launch by capturing audiences that topped 1 million and even over 2 million for some of its shows, has seen its numbers drop off in recent months.
To Peterson, the issue is that the shelf life of mobile games is short. Ripkord.tv’s approach is to program multiple game shows to keep fans engaged.
“People get bored,” he said. “We need constant new stuff, new shows, and rotate them like a TV network does with a season.” Indeed, even HQ Trivia’s creators have recognized this and plan to launch a new app called “Words,” a “Wheel of Fortune”-style fill-in-the-blank word game.
Ripkord.tv co-founder and CEO Todd Peterson
Meanwhile, the hype over HQ Trivia has led networks to bow their own copycat apps. In August, Fox Broadcasting launched live trivia game FNGenius, followed by TBS’s “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” which rolled out HQ Trivia-like app “This Is Not a Game: The Game” in September.
According to Peterson, the fact that TV networks have latched on to the trend is a validation of the model. What Ripkord.tv brings to the table, he said, is a way for entertainment companies to more efficiently launch interactive game shows — without having to build all the infrastructure themselves and create standalone apps. The startup plans to enter into revenue-sharing deals with studios and networks.
“We’re opening the doors to other partners,” said Peterson. He said Ripkord.tv has already signed a licensing deal for one of its original shows with a TV network, which will live-sync the broadcast with the app, but he declined to identify either the show or the network partner.
Ripkord.tv’s current original live game shows are “Fast Facts,” a true/false trivia show; “The Hunt,” a scavenger hunt where players must search the internet to solve clues; “In or Out,” a roulette-style game of chance; “Raise the Bar,” in which players predict how fellow players will answer questions; and “Word Up,” a game puzzle geared around pop culture.
The Ripkord.tv games are free to play, and users can earn or purchase in-game “Ripkoins” — the app’s social currency — that they can use to do things like unlock shout-outs from hosts and send emotes during a live-streamed show.
So far, Ripkord.tv has amassed a relatively small user base (under 100,000) by word of mouth. Peterson said the startup is going to start more actively promoting the app, and he expects to get a bump once it launches new shows with studio and network partners.
Launched in May 2018, the Ripkord.tv app is available free to download from Apple’s App Store for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS 10.0 (or later) and from Google Play for Android devices running version 4.4 (or later).