Is HQ Trivia Worth $1 Billion Dollars?
Just 4 months ago, a little known game show app called HQ had less than 10,000 people tuning in to play the game for a cash prize. The app now has over one million users playing twice a day, every single day. It’s one of the most popular apps and dare we say “TV shows” on the market. HQ was made by the former creators of Vine who sold the app to Twitter, now they’ve struck lightning twice. Rumors are swirling that they’re raising a big round of financing valuing the company at $100M. The catch, they might actually not need to.
HQ’s impact on culture is pretty apparent, with rapid growth and celebrity hosts like Jimmy Kimmel and Dillon Francis, HQ is becoming the modern day, mobile Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. The app is bringing in television level viewership, yet they haven’t started monetizing.
HQ’s audience already competes with cable TV ratings in which popular shows on average see 1-3M viewers. Super shows will see around 10M+ viewers and are generally either on HBO, broadcast television or they’re The Walking Dead. Another popular app, Shazam, recently launched a show called “Beat Shazam” on Fox. Their show see’s the SAME numbers that HQ is seeing twice a day. (p.s. Apple just bought Shazam for $400M).
The value of HQ is currently its intellectual property, the whole idea, brand and programming of the app. In the unscripted TV world, shows like American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen & Project Runway are called TV formats. Whole conferences and festivals like MipTV are created so that production companies and networks can sell to other countries the right to create their own versions of their shows. A successful show could be syndicated into several other countries for millions to billions of dollars in licensing fees and royalties.
HQ, could license the show, not the app, and leverage the popularity of the show to drive more audiences to the app internationally. It could work a little something like this.
- Do a deal with CBS, ABC, NBC or FOX. They have some of the biggest unscripted TV shows and their channels have the biggest reach in households across the US. Arguably HQ’s 1M users could turn to 5-10M overnight, just by their level of exposure.
- Monetize via Television & Native Advertising. HQ will make money on native advertising in their app, and a lot of it, but they have an untapped audience in television with advertising dollars on the table. A show like Modern Family could make 1-2M dollars an episode in advertising and other shows 2-3x more. That number is based on viewership and can quickly add up. American Idol was making over 7 million dollars per half hour.
- Sell the TV format to big territories and international distributors. Syndication is the secret sauce for TV. Shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? were in 108 countries at its peak. American Idol was first Pop Idol which ended up in 42 territories internationally. A hot reality show could sell a format to a country for an upfront fee in the seven figure range and command 2-5% of revenue in production fees, advertising and royalties on syndication, as well as ancillary revenue from board games, merchandise and tours.
- With the right strategy and ratings, HQ could make millions to billions just off of smart contracts for their TV format around the world. This can be done right now, today, without raising anymore money.
A couple years ago the UK TV format business was worth 2.9B dollars! Shows like American Idol and Big Brother, were bought because they did so well in other countries. American Idol was worth billions by the end of its run, bringing in over have half a billion dollars in TV advertising, plus more in sponsorship packages, live tours, and TV formats.
HQ is in an interesting platform, because this type of live engagement is not only desired by every major social network, but by TV networks as well. Both have the capabilities of creating their own versions of HQ. That’s why HQ is best served by leaning in on amplifying their offering through TV. Episodic, live engagement is still most exciting for advertisers.
Could you imagine an HQ Indonesia, HQ Nigeria, HQ London or HQ Brazil? How about sponsored prize money in the millions from companies like GM, Nike or Pepsi? Expect to see more HQ type concepts in the coming years, but if HQ wants to be forward thinking and not just a memory, they have a chance to get ahead of the game by striking a deal with a network to televise their game show, and selling that concept to countries around the world.