HQ Trivia is still amassing live audiences bigger than many cable TV networks for its daily trivia competitions — and the app startup appears to be landing a few TV-size deals.
For a special truck-themed game on Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. ET, HQ Trivia will give away an all-new 2019 Chevy Silverado to one randomly selected winner (out of everyone who answers all questions correctly) under a sponsorship pact with General Motors. The GM deal, which makes Chevy the exclusive auto sponsor for the first quarter of 2019, is worth at least $1 million, according to two sources.
All told, HQ Trivia has generated over $10 million in advertising revenue since it began selling sponsorships in the first quarter of 2018, according to Brandon Teitel, senior VP of programming and partnerships.
HQ Trivia’s audience has fallen off from the peak of its hype cycle — it routinely drew more than 1 million live viewers daily about a year ago — but the games still pull in a live crowd of around 500,000 or more, depending on the prize or special guests on the show. HQ Trivia’s shows usually have a larger group of concurrent users than live-streams on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Twitch, according to Teitel.
“It’s an audience every cable television network would love to have,” Teitel said, adding that HQ Trivia had more than 1 million players on Christmas Day last week. For what it’s worth, HQ Trivia made Apple’s chart of top free games for 2018, coming in at No. 16.
HQ Trivia went through an “initial mania,” Teitel acknowledged, but he said that helped it build a base of recurring users that the company has been able to successfully monetize through advertising and in-app purchases (for “extra lives” when users get an answer wrong).
Teitel claimed HQ Trivia is now profitable “on a per-show basis,” although the company overall continues to operate in the red. “The cost to produce HQ Trivia is a lot less than standard television,” he said. “It’s on a green screen — it’s just a host on camera.”
For the Jan. 8 GM-sponsored game, featuring popular host Scott Rogowksy, HQ Trivia also will give out a prize pool of $50,000 in cash for the other winners to split in addition to the Chevy Silverado (also worth about $50,000). HQ Trivia will run Chevy commercial spots in the app throughout the month of January under the sponsorship deal.
HQ Trivia also has a major ad deal with Fox, which has used the app to promote its new singing competition, “The Masked Singer,” leading up to its Jan. 2 premiere. Other companies HQ Trivia has sold sponsorships to include Warner Bros. — which last year paid $3 million to promote three movies — as well as NBC, Universal Pictures, Google, Nike, Target, JPMorgan Chase, and MillerCoors.
Launched in August 2017, HQ Trivia has spawned numerous copycat competitors with the promise of letting users win real money, including Facebook Watch’s Confetti.
HQ Trivia hosts games weekdays at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET and on the weekends at 9 p.m. ET. To win, players must correctly answer all 12 multiple-choice questions (with a 10-second time limit), which become increasingly difficult as the game progresses.
Intermedia Labs, HQ Trivia’s parent company, late last month launched its second game: HQ Words, in which players compete to figure out a puzzle a la “Wheel of Fortune” over 10 rounds.
That came after the company suffered a shock when co-founder and CEO Colin Kroll was found dead in his New York City apartment on Dec. 16 of an apparent drug overdose. Intermedia is now led by Rus Yusupov, HQ Trivia’s other co-founder, who together with Kroll was one of the founders of now-defunct short-video service Vine.