Drivetime Adds Jeopardy! to its Voice Game Lineup for Commuters

Drivetime made two announcements today. The first was an $11 million funding round that included investors Makers Fund, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, and Google. The second was the addition of a voice-interactive version of Jeopardy! to Drivetime’s iOS and Android apps designed for use while driving. Jeopardy! is a popular game today on Amazon Alexa and in Google Play and iOS App Store. Drivetime worked with Sony Pictures Television’s games division to develop a unique experience designed for drivers on their commute. Paul Joffe, vice president of Games at Sony Pictures Television, commented:

Drivetime brings JEOPARDY!® and Alex Trebek into a whole new part of people’s lives, turning their daily commute into a unique quiz show experience.

Niko Vuori, Drivetime CEO and co-founder, told Voicebot in an interview that Jeopardy! has 35 years of TV content, and that they worked to extract audio tracks from each year and recut them into fresh shows. That ensures each Jeopardy! on Drivetime will be newly formulated. And, they will all include audio of long-time host Alex Trebeck as well as more recent recordings. There is also another host from the “clue crew” that offers the multiple-choice options and shares additional facts about the answers. Drivetime’s Miles character makes a cameo appearance to tell uses their score after each round.

Making the Commute More Tolerable / Enjoyable

Drivetime is solely focused on voice-interactive games for drivers commuting to work. Various studies show the average daily commute time to work in the U.S. is 35 to 52 minutes. As a result, Drivetime looks to fill a significant portion or all of that time with its interactive games. Drivetime Trivia typically runs about 25 minutes in length while the runtime for the first episode of Jeopardy! in the app went just over 20 minutes. Users can try out the first episode for free, but then need to pay a monthly subscription fee to access one of the dozen other daily shows already in the app. New episodes are scheduled to be released daily going forward.

Monetizing Voice Games

Interestingly, Jeopardy! was the first Alexa skill to include a subscription monetization offer so players could access more games in a given week. Drivetime has implemented a slightly different but similar model with its original trivia game. That game includes two show hosts that intersperse three trivia categories with discussions around current events and facts related to the daily questions. This requires a team of writers to come up with new material every day and there are now more than 250 episodes.

However, on any given day users can only play that day’s episode. Access to the back catalog was first made available in April 2018 when Drivetime rolled out its subscription service. For $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, subscribers can access all of the back episodes as well as seven other titles, now including Jeopardy! Other titles range from a quiz for identifying song clips called Tunetime and Blackjack to Would you Rather and interactive fiction.

Competing Trivia Games or New Game Show Network

Vuori declined to discuss the commercial arrangements with Sony Television Pictures, but it is clear there is a licensing or royalty agreement in place between the companies.  Jeopardy! reflects Drivetime’s first licensing arrangement and it may surprise some observers that they chose to feature a show that competes so closely with the company’s flagship trivia game. However, Vuori told Voicebot that he hopes Drivetime will become the SiriusXM of in-car games. So, the strategy is more about providing a voice-interactive entertainment service than to be a game studio.

SiriusXM is the satellite radio provider with hundreds of channels ranging from music and news to talk shows and sports. Vuori said Drivetime can fulfill a similar role of entertaining drivers but with games instead of passive audio content. The key difference is that Drivetime users will be more actively engaged during their commute whether it be in trivia or what he calls “brain training.” Vuori expects to add more big-name brand games to Drivetime’s growing list of titles in the coming year so users will have a wide variety of choices on their commute, just like they do with SiriusXM.

Drivetime Closes $11 Million Series A Round with Investment From Makers Fund, Amazon’s Alexa Fund and Google

Amazon Alexa Monetization Introduced with $1.99 Subscription for Jeopardy Skill

Niko Vuori CEO of Talks Voice Games for the Car – Voicebot Podcast Ep 81