Profile: Ty Lam

Jun 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Title: President, Buzztime Entertainment. Buzztime is an interactive 24-hour play-along trivia games channel.
Background: Mr. Lam assumed the post of president of Buzztime in 1999 when the company was founded. He previously worked with Buzztime’s parent company, NTN Communications, on interactive TV solutions. Before joining NTN in 1994, he developed ITV applications, including an interactive-program guide and interactive Jeopardy! for EON Corp., formerly known as TV Answer.
ITV evolution: Mr. Lam has worked in ITV for 10 years, essentially since the birth of the medium. “The biggest thing that has happened in ITV is we have finally got to the point where we are focusing on programming instead of technology,” he said. “It’s taken 10 years to get to the point where the technology is stable enough. We are now going to move technology from the problem and make it solely the conduit to ITV.”
Trials: After three years of development, Buzztime launched its service commercially in mid-June to the 16,000 digital-cable subscribers with Susquehanna Cable in York, Pa. The service, free to consumers, provides trivia games that users can play alone or against others. Initial data indicates the service was well-received during the technical trial with 500 “friendlies” and employees. During the weekend of June 15-16, the Buzztime trivia channel had 1,000 unique daily users averaging more than 1.5 hours of play per day. A surprising piece of information gleaned from the trial is that a high number of players were setting up conference calls on speakerphones to talk with others while playing the games, Mr. Lam said.
“In an interactive broadband environment, we want as many people involved as possible,” he said. “It creates a feeling of community. People want to play against other people. The No. 1 motivation to play our games is competition and to have your name shown on TV if you are on the leader board.” The application runs on Scientific-Atlanta Explorer set-top boxes and may also be available on Motorola boxes through an agreement the company has with Liberate Technologies, whose middleware runs on the Motorola DCT2000.
Trivia whizzes: All of Buzztime’s games at the moment are trivia games. They are divided into six categories: sports, kids, TV, entertainment, music and general trivia. The company has a database of 175,000 trivia questions that it has created over the last 20 years at NTN.