HQ Trivia: Quiz app ends with drunken broadcast after 'running out of money'


The team at HQ Trivia

It’s 2018 and people are gathering around a phone to take part in the day’s round of HQ Trivia, a real-time quiz app where players can win real cash.

Two years later, and HQ Trivia has gone bankrupt and shut down, its presenters drinking and swearing during its last live broadcast.

The final game’s prize was just $5 (£3.83) – and that came out of the pocket of host Matt Richards.

That prize was split by 523 viewers.

It’s a far cry from the app’s heyday, when prizes could reach $300,000 (£214,000) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was a guest presenter on the 15-minute show.

HQ Trivia was free to download and free to play. A live presenter would ask 12 multiple choice questions and anyone who answered them all correctly would win part of the game’s prize fund.

A live chat ran during the game, and presenters read out messages from players during the live daily broadcasts.

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HQ Trivia

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HQ Trivia had, at its peak, more than 2 million players

It’s estimated that in February 2018, there could be 2.3 million people playing HQ Trivia at the same time.

During its lifespan gave away $6 million (£4.6 million) in cash prizes.

But on Friday 14 February 2020, HQ Trivia shut down, making its 25 employees redundant after running out of money.

Investors had pulled their cash out of the app and a plan for a new buyer to rescue the company fell through at the last minute.

HQ Trivia had been funded by investors but also made money when brands, such as The Voice or Warner Bros, paid for special takeovers and games about their products.

Players could also spend money on extra lives to use during the games.

What happened in HQ Trivia’s final show?

Presenters Matt Richards and Anna Roisman drank alcohol during the final broadcast, and didn’t hold back their feelings on the app closing down.

The hosts would often drink during the app’s more adult-orientated HQ After Dark games.

“Why are we shutting down? I don’t know. Ask our investors. What am I going to do with my fish tank? I think our investors ran out of money,” said Matt during the show.

“Someone hire me! I’m talented,” said Anna.

Matt said he’d been given two shots of tequila and the pair opened a giant bottle of champagne which he said was being saved for when the app reached 3 million players.

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HQ Trivia

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Sharon Carpenter was one of the presenters on HQ Trivia when it was at its most popular

In 2018 its then-host Sharon Carpenter told Radio 1 Newsbeat she believed HQ Trivia and its format was “the future of television – it’s the future of broadcasting”.

“It’s the same reason people love live TV, but this you can take wherever you are,” she said.

“You never know how the game is going to end up – and I think because of that there is this element of the fear of missing out.”

Does Sharon still feel the same way? We had to ask her again.

“I still think it’s the future of TV, HQ was ahead of its time,” Sharon tells us.

Players loved the fact they could take part wherever they were, whether that’s 30,000 ft up in the air, skiing in the Alps, or on a dance floor in a club.

“This doesn’t mean it’s the end of this kind of format, I’m sure something is going to be next.

“HQ is now a part of history, people know what is possible on your smartphones now.”

‘We wanted to break the mould’

The app was founded by Colin Kroll and Rus Yusupvo – the people who also founded the now-defunct video sharing app Vine.

“We’ve never stopped experimenting with video technology,” Rus told Newsbeat in 2018.

“With HQ we wanted to blend and break out of these moulds of traditional television.

“We thought if you could up the levels of production and broadcast directly to people’s phones – and make that content more interactive and more social – that we could actually turn this into something we could use daily.”

Colin Kroll was found dead in his apartment in December 2018.

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