As publishers struggle with short attention spans, a local trivia startup has found a way to help companies engage their audiences through games. A new competition called ITK — short for "in the know" — launched Tuesday from Charleston-based Stream.
The new game was designed in the style of "Family Feud," where players answer a simple question by trying to guess what the majority of people will say. Anyone can play the game on "The Q" app, but Stream's main goal is to sell the games to publishers, who could customize them for their brands.
Will Jamieson, CEO of Stream, first released The Q trivia game at the end of 2017 as a competitor to HQ Trivia, another popular game where users can tune in daily for scheduled competitions. Stream's key capability is in streaming video to large, live audiences.
But Jamieson shifted his strategy last year when he realized he could sell access to the gaming platform to publishers and other companies trying to keep audiences' attention. With the trivia game, users keep their eyes on the screen for 15 minutes, on average. Stream's customers can now build their own interactive game shows, with content specific to their brands.
Its customers include Pandora, the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and media giant News Corp. Customers can create their own questions The Mavericks, for instance, had Jamieson's company create a trivia game specific to their fans, drawing them to a fan appreciation night where they could play the game and win perks like upgraded seats.
The Q typically has anywhere from 2,000 to 30,000 users in the United States on their games. The number of users tends to depend on how big the cash prizes are.
The new ITK game will be another offering on the platform, and it likely won't be the last. Stream plans to release more games throughout the year.
"We always thought trivia was our first foray into the space," Jamieson said.
Stream employs about 15 workers, with most of them based in Charleston.
The launch of the new ITK game coincided with the annual, three-day Dig South tech summit last week. Stream ran an ITK game from the event Friday.
ITK will also solve one big problem trivia games have had in the past: cheating.
Trivia games like The Q have been the victims of bots that can predict answers to questions, giving some players an unfair edge. The bots search for answers to trivia questions and provide them immediately — a workaround to the seconds-long limit on questions that makes it tough for people to Google answers before time runs out.
HQ Trivia has sent cease-and-desist letters to developers behind these bots.
Stream's new game will thwart cheaters because the answers are crowd-sourced. Jamieson also thinks ITK will keep its players engaged for longer periods of time, because they can still vote on questions even after they are eliminated.
Jamieson attended the College of Charleston where, in 2013, he helped to develop Yik Yak, an anonymous messaging app popular especially on college campuses. Yik Yak announced it was shutting down in 2017.