|Traded as||NYSE MKT: NTN|
|Key people||Ram Krishnan, CEO and Director|
NTN Buzztime is a company that produces interactive entertainment across many different platforms. Its most well-known product, simply called Buzztime, and formerly known as the NTN Network, since 1985, broadcasts trivia and other games via broadband over a national network to over 3,800 bars and restaurants in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Operations in the UK were discontinued Q3 2008. Typically, independently owned bars and restaurants offer Buzztime. However, it is also offered by major chains such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Damon's Grill, and is being implemented at some T.G.I. Friday's and Applebee's. Buzztime offers several different kinds of trivia games based on a variety of subjects, including pop culture, entertainment, world history, geography, sports and music, as well as general trivia games with questions in many categories.
In January 2008 Buzztime Entertainment filed a legal suit against Sony Computer Entertainment Europe alleging that Sony had violated several of its trademarks with its Buzz! series of video games. The suit accused Sony of a "malicious, fraudulent, knowing, wilful, and deliberate" violation of its trademarks. In the suit Buzztime is seeking the recall and destruction of all infringing products and is asking the court for actual damages, punitive damages, legal fees and an order to the US Patent and Trademark Office not to register Sony's pending Buzz trademarks.
How Buzztime works
Buzztime players use "Playmakers" to answer the questions that are displayed on the television screens. Questions are answered by pressing numbered buttons that correspond to multiple-choice answers. The region on the right side of the Playmaker is known as the "Playzone" and it features a numbered keypad. The row of numbers at the top of the Playmaker can also be used to respond to questions.
After each game, the top 20 individual winners as well as the top 20 establishments on the entire network (based on an average of the five highest scores at that establishment—top six for Showdown) are broadcast in a "Network Rankings" summary for each game. Many teams gather together in their respective establishments to partake in the battle of wits.
Many frequent Buzztime players are enrolled in the "Players Plus" program. Players earn Players Plus points by participating in a game, and can earn additional points by beating a target score that is given before the start of each game. In the past, Buzztime trivia offerings were available over online services such as the now-defunct ImagiNation Network. Now, Buzztime trivia can be found on other platforms, such as an electronic home-system version and a mobile phone version.
In 2004, the company launched the Blast channel that is available to establishments that upgrade to the ITV2 system. (New Buzztime installations use the 2 channel ITV2 system.) This "Channel B" features the games Blackjack, Cutthroat (a form of billiards), Texas hold 'em poker, Shark Attack (similar to hangman) and Crazy Golf, a miniature golf-type game. It also can be used to broadcast some of the QB1 games, allowing the first channel to broadcast the trivia games.
In January 2006, the company renamed the NTN Network "Buzztime." Furthermore, the "Blast" brandname was discontinued. It also launched an expanded players' website, which features more-detailed player statistics and a phpBB-based forum. In 2009 a third "Channel C" all sports trivia channel was added to the system, but only 2 of the 3 channels (Trivia, Games or Sports) can be used simultaneously at a location. The Forum was discontinued in January, 2010 and replaced with a Blog.
NTN Buzztime used to produce a variety of wireless paging products, the most common example being a device that vibrates when a food order is ready. The wireless product division was sold in 2006.
NTN Buzztime also once produced and distributed ProHost Seating and Reservations Software for managing door and floor operations in Restaurants, Casinos, Theme Parks, Hotels, in its Arlington, TX office- known as "Software Solutions". Signature customers include Harrah's Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Universal Studios and Hard Rock Cafe. The software solutions division was sold by NTN Buzztime, Inc. in 2007 to ESP Digital Media.
In 1997, a complaint was filed charging NTN for devising an "exit strategy" that would provide certain defendants with millions of dollars of compensation upon their resignation. In 2000, a settlement of $3,250,000 was approved.
Notes and references
- Yahoo. "NTN: Profile for NTN BUZZTIME INC". Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- "NTN Buzztime, Inc. Announces Third Quarter Results". 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
- "NTN: Stock Quote & Summary Data". Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- Sinclair, Brendan (2008-01-28). "Sony Buzz-ed with trademark suit". Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- "Class Action Lawsuit Against NTN".