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Verizon Media’s New Yahoo Play App Is a Mobile Pop Culture Quiz Show With Rewards (EXCLUSIVE)

Verizon Media launched a new mobile quiz show app dubbed Yahoo Play Wednesday that tests players on their pop culture knowledge, and rewards them for getting it right: In-game points can be traded in for gift cards from brands like Apple, Amazon and Target. “We want to reward content consumption,” said Verizon Media’s head of entertainment and news Alex Wallace.

Yahoo Play’s main programming consists of 16 shows produced internally at Verizon Media units including Yahoo Entertainment, Yahoo Lifestyle, Build Series, Makers and Ryot. Each show invites viewers to play along and answer multiple-choice questions in just a few seconds.

Sounds like HQ Trivia? It does look a lot like it as well — with one key difference: Yahoo Play shows are pre-recorded, with the idea that you can play them any time you have a few minutes to spare. “We may do live for special events,” said Wallace. But the main goal was to make shows available 24/7, and not have players wait for pre-scheduled events to participate.

Any time a viewer gets a question right, she earns a few points of the app’s in-game currency. These can then be traded in against digital gift cards, with plans to add other shopping opportunities down the line. However, Wallace stressed that the main emphasis was on the game itself. “Commerce is a secondary part of it,” she said.

Some of the shows available at launch include “Beat the Street,” “2 Tumblrs and a Lie,” “Planet Date,” “Celeb News Now” and “Celeb Said What?!” In “Beat the Street,” hosts are quizzing people on the street on pop culture and other factoids, and users of the app have a chance to test their own knowledge at home.

In addition to these main shows, Yahoo Play also comes with a top row of Instagram-like stories called The Drop that features short clips with news and gossip around pop culture moments. Viewing these stories also earns you points, but not as many as one can earn with a quiz show.

Verizon Media head of product for news & entertainment Matt Edelman said that his group had worked on the app for over a year. Part of that work was dedicated to making sure that the lure of gift card rewards doesn’t prompt people to cheat, which required trying to find loopholes before the app went live. “We have gamed the system in every single way,” he said. “Abuse protection is a huge focus for us.”

And there is another way Yahoo Play wants to make sure that people care just as much about the game itself as the rewards, while also getting them to frequently come back for more: The number of earned points reset back to zero every Sunday afternoon. “Your point balance is ephemeral,” said Edelman.

At launch, Verizon Media is still producing all of Yahoo Play’s shows in-house, but Wallace said that  partnerships with third-party publishers, including outside brands, are on the roadmap. And while Yahoo Play is a mobile app-only experience, Verizon Media is also looking to promote it widely across its existing sites and platforms. Said Wallace: “The beauty of Yahoo is its massive reach.”

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