Easy Money: Are Online Quiz Shows Just A Trend or Are They Here to Stay?

IMAGE Paydro / Kumu / Facebook Confetti

It may not be for everyone, but noontime variety TV shows have become such an ingrained part of Filipino culture that for many people, it's basically a cult or even a religion. When the clock strikes 12, thousands of households turn the TV on and turn up the volume. 

The country’s longest-running noontime show, Eat Bulaga, will be celebrating its 40th year on air in July. While some may attribute its continued popularity to its hosts, the cash prizes the show promises to its viewers is undoubtedly a huge part of its appeal.

For the past four decades, Eat Bulaga and the numerous other programs that have challenged it have promised viewers a ticket to a “better life” mainly through games and contests. Whether these games make sense is beside the point; they're there simply to entertain.

From pagents featuring kids and gay men, to dance competitions and quiz-type games that have attracted even the country’s youngest scholars--all these promise one thing: thousands, sometimes even millions in cash prizes.

It’s a formula that has proven effective based on how long these variety shows have been on the air. But with the advent of smartphones and social media, a new version of this type of entertainment is out to rival these traditional TV variety shows.

IMAGE: Paydro

The Launch of Paydro

In the summer of 2018, Philippine-based startup OrangeApps Inc. soft-launched Paydro in the iOS App Store and GooglePlay. The app’s premise is simple: a game show will be streamed on its app at a specific time, in which a host will ask 12 questions to viewers who will try to answer each within 10 seconds. By the end of the show, contestants who get all answers correctly will share the cash prize for the day. All participants may cash out their prizes through PayPal.

The show is usually streamed at 12:30 P.M. on weekdays, right in the midst of lunch break, so it’s not surprising to find that most of the show’s viewers are students and young office workers.

In the beginning, the cash pot was kept at a minimum of P20,000, giving contestants a chance to win from P11 per game to more than P1000. Soon, more and more viewers started downloading the app and playing the game, and with the increase of contestants came the rise of pot prize. At one point, the prize went up to P300,000 per game.

To further drum up its momentum, the company put up billboards all over Metro Manila. Paydro  asked viewers to take a photo of the billboards in exchange for an extra “life” or a chance to play again once he or she gets the wrong answer, on the app. By August 2018, the platform was attracting up to 25,000 viewers daily.

“Paydro has mainly become interactive TV for Filipino millennials. A lot of our users are college students and young professionals who play with their friends and colleagues to really experience small wins in life,” OrangeApps Inc. CEO Gian Javelona told Esquire Philippines. “Game shows have been popular in the Philippines for probably as long as TVs have been around. It’s become a part of the lives [of] us Filipinos. Online game show apps like Paydro elevates this gaming and entertainment experience and puts it on your mobile phone.”

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The Origin of the Online Quiz Game Craze

The concept isn’t entirely new. In August 2017, founders of the now-defunct social media platform Vine launched HQ Trivia, which has a similar premise to Paydro. A host asks a set of questions and viewers that get to answer all correctly can share the pot prize with other winners. At the peak of its popularity, it attracted more than a million viewers with cash prizes reaching $25,000 (P1.3 million). Less than six months after its launch, the company behind it had a valuation of $100 million.

It’s not surprising then that the trend has caught on even on this side of the world.

Since Paydro was launched, two other local companies introduced similar apps. Listed tech company Xurpas has Trivia Time with Kuya Kim, hosted by TV personality Kim Atienza, which was made available in November 2018. It was a timely addition to the company's portfolio of celebrity games.

Meanwhile, streaming platform Kumu started a weekly quiz show of their own called Quiz Mo Ko in August 2018. It has since attracted over 5,000 viewers for every telecast. While the game isn’t the platform’s main offering, it has proven to be an effective way to attract users to its app.

“Our idea to launch a live quiz show was born out of a bigger vision: to build a livestreaming platform that would democratize Filipino creativity and allow anyone with a phone to go live, be themselves, and earn an income from that,” Kumu co-founder Rexy Durado said.


By December 2018, social media giant Facebook likewise brought in its version of the quiz game called Confetti to the country. It has been available in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom since June. 

“We launched the show in countries where we see great appetite and opportunity for video consumption, as a means to maximize our audience potential,” Saurabh Doshi, director of entertainment partnerships for Facebook Asia Pacific said. “We saw great audience potential because of the how deeply engaged Filipinos are on Facebook.”


The Games' Hook

Part of what makes these apps a success, aside from the cash they promise, of course, is convenience. Joining a game is for free. You only need a mobile phone and a stable internet connection and, perhaps, a bit of luck. Playing the games with friends or family makes it doubly enjoyable, too.

Ivan Bautista, a supervisor in a local transport company, usually plays the game with family. They have become so engrossed with the show that his family has made it a routine to alert their group chat once Confetti has started streaming on Facebook. It certainly helps that ever since he and his family started playing in December, four of them have won once, including his mom. And the lowest cash prize they’ve earned is $90.

“Once you win, you get hooked. You feel you can win again,” he shared. “And it’s not like the questions are easy. As the show goes on, the questions become more difficult and tricky. But that’s part of the fun.”

What these quiz shows have in common is how the questions start off easy and progressively gets harder. It can range from the absurdly obvious like “What’s the capital of the Philippines?” to the outrageously specific like “Who was the president that had his birthday last January 1?”

With these kind of questions, viewers are forced to pay attention, demanding the kind of focus that is rare these days, especially with the slew of distractions available. This is why some have called mobile game shows the “future of television.”

It has the familiarity of our favorite game shows, the convenience of free TV and the platform ripe for advertising. Others, however, believe it's a trend that will eventually be forgotten in a few years’ time.

But Javelona of Paydro is optimistic about its future. “The problem we saw with the model of US online game shows was that they failed to innovate and move on from just offering one thing. This 2019, Paydro has launched two new shows and more on the way to accompany Paydro Live trivia,” he said.


The app has also introduced “rewards” so players that lost early in the game still have a chance to participate and earn points for every correct answer. After accumulating a certain amount of points, these users may also gain prizes, like a sack of rice or a brand new phone.

“It’s really about continuously innovating and improving the experience of our users,” Javelona said. “We see Paydro as the future of media. It’s more than just a trivia game.”

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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