If you’ve ever heard the phrases ”Quiz Daddy” “Quemero Numero Uno” or “Savage Question!” then you know exactly who and what I’m referring to. Scott Rogowsky is the current host of the extremely popular game show app HQ Trivia. Launched on iOS in August 2017 and Android in January of 2018, HQ Trivia has grown from a mere 100,000 players to a whopping 2.1 million as of Superbowl Sunday. For those who are living under a rock or still own a flip phone, HQ Trivia is a interactive trivia show played live twice a day at 3:00pm and 9:00pm for 15 minutes. HQ provides the chance for players to win cash every day directly to their PayPal accounts. With the winning pot ranging anywhere from $2,500 up to $20,000 between the victors. Each player has 10 seconds to respond to the question given by the host. Answer all 12-15 question right, win the money it’s as simple as that. With the rapid success and growing popularity that HQ has gained over the past few months this raises the question of where did it come from and what is its future? With a business model that leaves minimal opportunity to obtain any revenue how will this platform adapt into a viable business.

HQ Trivia was created by Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll two cofounders of the onetime widely successful app Vine. Yusupov and Kroll originally setted out to a create an interactive mobile gaming platform called Hype. However, the two founders quickly realized that specialization on a single game, HQ Trivia, was a better place start in proving their concept. HQ Trivia has yet to attempt to obtain a profit on the platform instead seeking outside venture capitalist investments and utilizing their own savings as a way to fund the project. Companies such as Lightspeed Venture Partners in New York City and multiple Silicon Valley based firms have jumped on board to this hip new take of trivia game shows with lively enthusiasm.

Growing Pains:

With the introduction of the original platform players were required to link their PayPal account to the app and have a balance of over $20 in order to cash out on their winnings. If the player did not obtain the full $20 within 90 days of their first win their winnings would be forfeited. However, this method has not gone without criticism. Players (including myself) have complained about the minimum buyout which has since been eliminated. The old payout system was a way for HQ to recover some of their bottom line knowing fully well that players had a slim chance of winning money multiple times in a row. Additionally, as HQ servers have had to bear the burden of over 1.5 million players daily HQ has recently experienced server crashes along with lagging and freezing during gameplay. Although these problems have been few and far between, I believe this a major complication that needs to be fixed as HQ grows in popularity and has a future of possible expansion and profitability.

Looking to the Future:

So this begs the question as to where HQ Trivia and their “Hostess with the Mostess” will be taking the company in the future. According to executives within HQ Trivia’s staff although they are not currently in the market for a deal, Yusupov and Kroll have sat down with agents and former Hollywood executives looking for advice for the future. Rumors that the popular app will be adapted to an interactive 30 minute TV show are widespread. HQ’s current brand loyalty is an extremely large advantage in the possibility of getting a commercial deal. Nonetheless if they don’t act fast an imitator company will swoop in and steal their niche space.

Although the thought of a live trivia gameshow is enticing to many people it seems that HQ won’t be entering the commercial television space any time soon. Inside sources within HQ have denounced the concept to multiple reporters stating that they are still working on growing and improving the mobile platform. It seems that HQ Trivia is committed to refining their app’s quality along with continuing to build a consumer base before taking any drastic steps into the cable market. The most likely change that consumers will see to the HQ platform would the addition of sponsored games by companies. These sponsored events would not include real time commercials mitigating the possibility of slower gameplay.

My Thoughts:

Since I am not a huge fan of HQ Trivia I believe that my perspective on the future of their company is less biased than others. Currently, HQ has enough capital and a large enough consumer base where ad revenue should not be their main concern. With an $100 million dollar valuation in their second round of financing coupled with the public perception of potential profits HQ is currently sitting in a good spot. Much like Facebook with their addition of ads in 2012, HQ Trivia is very likely to face backlash from their consumers. I believe that participants will not be ok with a slowing of the pace of play due to the constant mentioning of a sponsor. As for now my hope is for HQ Trivia to continue to improve their services and user experience for as long as possible.


So what do you think. Do you believe HQ Trivia will obtain a television deal within the next few years? What should HQ be focused on at this time, ad revenue or building a larger customer base? Do you agree that consumers will grow angry with the addition of ads on screen?






  1. nescrivag · ·

    This is a great post! I wasn’t familiar with the app at all so it was very interesting to read about how it works. In my opinion, HQ should be focusing on expanding their customer base because I feel like it is still a pretty new concept and there are still many people who don’t about this app that might be interested in using it. I do think that it is inevitable that at some point they’ll start making ad revenue, like most apps end up doing. While this will definitely anger the users, we all get accustomed to change, like we did on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and many other platforms. Sure, sponsored posts are annoying but I think that it just takes time to get used to it.

  2. As a former HQ user, I personally do not think a television show or the app itself will be sustainable. I truly believe that the app is a phase in society, just like Angry Birds or Words With Friends. Although those apps do not have an incentive like prize money, the audience for HQ I just do not think have the patience to keep playing if they keep losing…kind of like me. There is only so much attention you can hold onto when the app keeps on freezing and lagging, which makes me not even want to sit through just to lose. This is all in addition to Scott talking way too much. Eventually, I think with the reality of millennials, the app will just fade out and everyone will talk about that time that HQ was a thing. Great post!

  3. kikinitwithraf · ·

    Interesting Post! As much as it would be an out-of-the-box idea, I don’t believe HQ has longterm potential in the world of television. @kkim312 makes a good point in which this may all be a fad. Something bigger, better, and more engaging will come along, much like the examples in “Gin, Television, and a Cognitive Surplus.” With technology and consumer preferences rapidly changing, audiences will always find new coping mechanisms to fill void in everyday life.

    That said, I think it would be cool to have a television show engage with users in real-time via mobile devices and make them part of the live action as potential contestants. Not sure how it could be done, but i think the future of “contestant-style” shows may very well be possible with “at-home” participation.

  4. addisonBC2018 · ·

    Agreeing with @kkim312 and @kikinitwithraf – I don’t think this is a sustainable app. I think it’s done a great job gaining attention and hype and is a fun thing to add to their resume, but I think the frustrations with the game greatly outweigh the benefits. Not only does the game lag consistently, Scott talks WAY too much and treats it like it’s a television talk show. They need to adjust his hosting style to the platform it’s on. (Can you tell I’m frustrated with this app?)

    I loved how this post explored the future of HQ, because I personally never thought of it evolving much past where it is now. Interesting to see where it goes. Great post!

    1. thebobbystroup · ·

      I think your comment actually brings up a very important point – the controversial nature of the hosts. I first started using the app last fall when it was a big deal to have over 100k people on the game. Back then the only host was Scott “the Quiz Master” Rogowsky, but a couple weeks later they brought in a new hostess. The comments section was full of rage (I may or may not have taken a screenshot and sent some angry Snaps to my friends). However, the next day in class when I talked to some friends about it, I found that there were actually some people who preferred Sharon Carpenter’s strictly business hosting style. I personally enjoyed listening to Scott, because I knew there was essentially zero chance that I was actually going to win the game (somehow I’m not an expert on 1930s movies and obscure baseball stats).

      All that being said, I agree with others in saying that this is a fad. After less than a month I burned out because of the frustration with never getting past question 9 out of 12.

  5. DingnanZhou · ·

    Nice Post Kennedy! I was surprised to read this post because in China, there are trends just like HQ trivia and they are on fire! Great to know where the original idea was from! I think one thing I found out interesting is that in China, the business models like HQ trivia is slightly twisted, they are mostly working with streaming broadcast. It is a good strategy for video streaming broadcast because that actually gives a lower cost for acquiring and maintaining users.

  6. Really interesting! I confess that I don’t know that much about this one. I suspect the valuation is more tied to the ability to create new programming and revenue sources, rather than the show itself. I’ll definitely dig into it more!

  7. mariaknoerr · ·

    Since I just discovered HQ over this past weekend, I was particularly interested in this post. Yesterday I showed it to my coworkers when the 3:00pm game started and was surprised to find out that no one had heard of it before. This includes a few people ranging in age from 18 to 24. Needless to say I was a bit excited that I knew of it before they did as this almost never happens! I agree that this feels like a fad-type app along the lines of Angry Birds or Words with Friends. I find the host’s babbling to be annoying and would prefer a more straight-forward approach to the game, at least during the 3:00pm rounds while many players are at work. After only playing 3 games, I already wish it was a shorter time commitment. It is a lot to ask for players’ full attention for 20 minutes given today’s multiple screen environment. In order to make money for the business model side, I think it could be cool to integrate advertisements into the content of the game, somewhat like traditional product placement. One or two trivia questions in each round could be about a brand, company or specific product. This way ads wouldn’t get in the way of the user interface or add any delays to the already long game.

  8. RayCaglianone · ·

    As others have been saying, I too am skeptical of the long term possibilities for HQ. I just don’t really see many ways for the app to move beyond its primary conceit of instant trivia, and I think that people are going to get bored before too long. Outside of what previous comments mentioned already (technical issues, chatty hosts), I think the primary issue is there just isn’t much else they can do without drastically changing how the app works. More aggressive in-app advertising seems like a logical next step in terms of monetization, but my personal view is that it will deeply alienate the core customer base. If people start to suspect that questions are sponsored, or that users are incentivized by the advertising at all, it takes away the primary fun of the app, which is feeling like an expert that has gamed the system when no else can.

  9. realjakejordon · ·

    I was really surprised to hear that there were 2.1M players on Superbowl Sunday. I feel like so many people lost interest a long time ago and I just assumed their daily players had dropped significantly. I also had the impression that HQ was never moving to a TV show, but rather trying to redefine what it meant to watch TV. In my opinion, HQ is revolutionary, but it’s before its time. It’s too glitchy and people don’t have the attention span to play longterm without winning. I think HQ will fade, but I think others will stem from it.

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