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HQ Trivia: Reality Execs Eager To See Whether The Popular App Can Become a TV Show

HQ Trivia doesn't yet have representation, but Hollywood is calling.

HQ Trivia; host Scott Rogowsky

HQ Trivia

Reality TV execs and producers are keeping an eye on HQ Trivia, and starting to ask if — or how — the popular app might be adapted for television.

HQ Trivia doesn’t yet have an agent, and isn’t actively shopping for a deal. But that’s not stopping reality players to kick the tires and set up meetings with the company. According to insiders, HQ Trivia’s creators have also sat down with a handful of agents and former agents in Hollywood as they look for advice.

“We’re inspired by TV and see some ways we can integrate, but nothing to share yet,” HQ Trivia co-founder Rus Yusupov said in an emailed statement.

Almost everyone agrees that time is of the essence for HQ Trivia if it were to break into TV. If it doesn’t capitalize on the current success of the app, the company risks being upstaged by an imitator, reality sources say. (Reality TV, after all, is well known for its copycats — just look at how many singing competition shows now exist.)

“Whether HQ branded or not, the idea of an interactive real-time trivia game is going to find its way to TV in short order,” says one reality source.

Part of the lure of HQ Trivia is that it has already captured the attention of Hollywood leaders, starting with Jimmy Kimmel. The talk show host surprised users when he hosted the game earlier this month. And some industry execs have become avid followers of the game: At the recent Television Critics Association press tour, one cable network exec admitted he was addicted to the game and even won $4.

HQ Trivia was founded by Intermedia Labs’ Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, who previously co-created Vine. The app features a live quiz game show at 9 p.m. ET daily (as well as 3 p.m. ET on weekdays), as users answer 12 questions in order to win a small cash prize. The game is hosted on most days by Scott Rogowsky, who has become an Internet sensation in his own right thanks to HQ Trivia’s growing popularity.

At the NATPE convention in Miami this week, a panel devoted to the state of the unscripted business kicked off with a discussion about HQ Trivia. Bruce David Klein, the president and executive producer at Atlas Media Corp., was impressed with the quick growth of HQ Trivia, which now attracts more than 1 million viewers daily — all watching at the same time, live.

“It’s an old-fashioned game show but reconfigured just enough so that somehow the whole package feels fresh and different and exciting,” Klein said. “Many recent newspaper headlines have asked, ‘Is HQ Trivia the future of television?’ Whether it is or isn’t, its success is impressive. This is a great example of harnessing the monumental changes that are affecting all of our businesses: Pulling together the tried and tested in a fresh way and forming a great new must-see experience for viewers.”

Elaine Frontain Bryant, A&E’s executive vice president and head of programming, noted that HQ Trivia’s rise comes as her network has found great success with “Live PD,” another live show that has developed appointment viewing among loyal fans.

“I think HQ Trivia is an awesome thing for us,” Bryant said. “It’s social, it’s fun, people want to talk about it. What we’ve seen with ‘Live PD’ is it’s an incredibly social show. Also, what is ‘Live PD’ but finding a genre that worked for a long time, called ‘Cops,’ and pouring gas on it in a fresh, daring way? And how do you make ‘Jeopardy’ better? Winning money yourself. There are a lot of similarities, taking a time-tested genre and making it accessible.”

But it’s still not clear if HQ Trivia would work as a half-hour TV show, or if it would be better suited as an interstitial. A producer would also have to figure out how to implement the live interactive component.

“I see HQ Trivia as scratching a different itch,” said CAA alternative TV agent Hans Schiff. “It’s not a TV show, it’s not something you view passively, it’s something you participate in. It plays very well to the social media phenomenon, gathering people who are already looking at their phones way, way too much. But it does not scratch the itch of what happens after a hard day and you get home and want to sit down and be entertained.”

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