What the Tech: Gravy

Local News

The new live shopping game show is addicting.

Have you ever wanted to be on a game show such as “The Price is Right” or “Let’s Make a Deal”? Thousands of people are playing a game show on their phones with a new shopping app called “Gravy”.

Released a few months ago, the app is a combination of one of those game shows with eBay or a “Going out of Business Sale”. Here’s how it works:

Each night at 8:30 pm ET, the Gravy show begins with host, Joe Buettner introducing a product and getting people excited about spending their money. Most nights it seems the products are in home-tech such as a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner or a Cuisinart Electronic Ice Cream Machine.

Once the reverse auction begins, Gravy offers the product at the full retail value, then drops the price every second. As Buettner entertains the audience by talking up (or down) the product, players can see the price dropping on the screen. As each second passes, the price drops another percentage point or so. Players can buy the item with a tap on a “Buy” icon on the screen. Of course, everyone wants to buy it at the lowest price but no one knows how  many Gravy has for sale.

Buettner doesn’t even know, or at least he seems as surprised as anyone when the sale ends because the quantity is gone. By the way, the folks at Gravy did a fine job hiring Buettner. The first night I watched he was supposed to be pimping a $200 Roomba but he clearly hates them. “Have you seen the video where the guy tries to clean up dog poop with the Roomba and it spreads it everywhere?” and “if you have arms and legs and can vacuum, I suggest you get a vacuum because this thing will ruin your life.”

He explains it doesn’t matter to him or the folks at Gravy what it ends up selling for because the company doesn’t make any more money if it sells out at a high price. Many of the products are donated by brands in exchange for the free 4-5 advertisement (though I wonder how the iRobot folks feel about its ‘commercial’).

In addition to buying the products, players can win money by guessing what it will eventually sell for at its lowest price. There’s usually a pot of $200-$300 to split among the folks who guess closest to the final price. Gravy also makes a donation to charities a percentage of the total amount players spend each night. According to the app, Gravy has donated over $13,000 to charities such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Prevent Cancer, National Forest Foundation, and Purple Hearts Homes.

This is the second such “live” game with a studio host where people watch and win. “HQ” was released about this same time last year with a live host asking trivia questions.

“Gravy” is an addicting game and each night I get a notification on my phone that a game is about to begin. Like I did when “HQ” first went live, I check and often watch “Gravy”.

It’s a free app for iPhones and Android devices.

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