If you have been following my content over the last year, you will know that I used a free live stream platform Blab – in fact I was one of the early adopters of the platform for live stream shows and had two main profiles on the platform.
I was one of the first to host a regular weekly show on Blab with the Live Stream Insiders which we started on 11 September 2015, so you could say I had a lot of experience of using the platform.
I like many users, created articles and videos to help other users to become familiar with the free live stream tool.
A micro economy built up around Blab with some people offering paid courses on how to use Blab for live streaming, and others building WordPress plugins to embed your live stream replays automatically on your website.
Blab provided an environment that for once in the world of live streaming there was a platform that was easy for people to use to connect, collaborate and converse. You could join from your iPhone or your desk top – for many months I used Blab on my mobile phone as it had a better resolution for my computer and web camera I was using at the time.
I have been creating video content on line since 2005 in my own business, and using webinars and Google Hangouts on Air for live events online for many years. But the problem with Google Hangouts On Air in particular is that it is always a challenge for people to join a Hangout on Air if they are unfamiliar with the platform PLUS you can not start a Google Hangout on Air from mobile.
Blab was a very simple platform where you could create an account with your Twitter account and start to live stream, watch a show or join a conversation in the chat or go on screen with the broadcaster.
But today all that came to an end.
The announcement was by a blog post from their co-founder that is links to from the Blab.im website.
I have incorporated some of the comments from Blab users from the article below with links should you wish to investigate further.
Interestingly on their Twitter account and on his Twitter account there is no link to the blog post despite it being published 11 hours ago.
In the early days, Blab had a very visible presence in the community, with members of the team jumping onto Blabs being held by community members or commenting in the chat. They even used their platform to show the team working in their office.
An early Blab that they hosted had their investor Michael Birch join to discuss the origins of Blab. I will however always remember his comment when people were asking about the platform that he had never attended a webinar – that for me spoke volumes.
The Blab team actively reached out to different communities to entice them into Blab. For example hosting events to attract different types of creators, and joining social media platforms to encourage people to check out Blab.
One of the great things about the platform is that people did not have to log in to the platform or even create an account to watch a Blab live stream or replay. They also made available the ability to embed live streams on your site.
Today people who had been using this feature will find the following – a notice to say that the platform has closed.
No notice was given of this decision, so if you have embedded Blab live streams across the internet people will not be able to view your content.
The article posted by Blab’s co-founder covers his point of view of why the platform failed – though not all users feel the same as you can see from the comments on the post.
If you had not previously downloaded your content from Blab, at the time of writing this article, I have checked and you can go back to your email archives and search from the live stream notification with the link to your audio and video replay and download them – but I anticipate this feature will not be available for long following the announcement to close.
At the time of writing this article, no users have been contacted to say thank you for being a member and how to download your live streams – and I know that people were still promoting forthcoming shows and hosting events on the platform.
Had The Demise And Closure Of Blab Been Foreseen?
Earlier this year there were distinct changes to how Blab operated.
The team were slower in coming back to respond to questions and customer service issues. There were issues with people being able to join live streams, lack of notifications of events, find scheduled shows, access replays, and even the quality of the live stream deteriorated.
Then the quality of the shows and the audience of users on Blab changed with many inappropriate X rated live streams appearing – not great for those of us using the platform for business related content – including many large and medium corporates from Cisco to Sage.
One of the most significant things that happened was that you could no longer watch a live stream or a replay without creating an account on Blab – that resulted in a dramatic fall off in viewers for shows.
Eventually, their co-founder hosted a live stream in which he announced that the platform was not one in which they would be continuing to invest in as they were experimenting with a new platform called Bebo Swipe to Chill. He also commented that Blab was not a platform for content creators or shows – forgetting that his team had been instrumental in attracting these types of content such as outreaching to podcasters to attract them to use Blab to host their shows. In fact they also invested in a paid podcast recording platform (one I paid for an used) called Podclear.
As a result some of us who had been using the platform started to investigate other platforms as a place to host our shows, and as an example Live stream Insiders moved platforms some months ago.
Other virtual event platforms also started to take notice of what was happening to Blab – I was personally approached by ReadyTalk and provided about two hours of time talking to them about key learnings from the development and demise of Blab. I have a list of around 40 key issues that live stream platforms could take as learnings that I shared with ReadyTalk – I’ve yet to see if they will adopt or apply any of the comments I shared with them.
Throughout the time I used Blab for our shows, I made sure that I had downloaded all the important content I wanted to archive, some of which I re-purposed and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube, other content I plan to repurpose in other ways. I am sure however that not all users had begun to explore other tools or had downloaded their replays from Blab as many did not host a weekly or regular show, so would be unfamiliar with how things had been progressing with the platform.
So today, and in the days and weeks ahead, I am sure that the news that Blab is no longer available as a platform to use will be both a shock and a concern.
My Personal Views On The Closure Of Blab For Live Streaming
When I searched Twitter and look at the comments on the blog post about the announcement I see many of the US live stream gurus being very ‘nice’ and expressing thanks for the platform and good luck to the team with the new venture. Don’t get me wrong, Blab was an environment and platform that I enjoyed using, connected with many new contacts and re-established relationships with people I had met on other social networks over the years. It provided me with a place to host my own show at no cost.
But I have to wonder why no one is calling out the co-founders and investors for frankly showing a lack of respect for their users? Users who were raving fans and ambassadors for the platform, who themselves advocated using it and helped many new users to learn to know about Blab – it is reported in the blog post about the closure of the platform that there were 3.9 million users of which 10 percent were returning users.
This is not the first or last time a social media platform will close. I personally was affected by the closure several years ago of blog platform Posterous which was purchased by Twitter and then closed some time later. But Twitter gave several months notice to users of what was happening and options to download content.
So did the live stream archive platform Katch which allowed people to access replays of Periscope live streams before the platform allowed live streams to be available beyond 24 hours. When they made a decision to close down as users had been promoting access to their live stream replays on Katch or through embed on their own sites, they provided clear communication to users several weeks in advance about the time line for this change.
Blab did no such thing. I personally discovered the news of the closure of Blab through a direct message from my co-host of the Live Stream Insiders and through posts in Facebook groups I am a member of.
No notice to users of a closure of service is frankly unacceptable in relation to standards customer support we expect today – whether that is related to a free or paid platform.
Was this to be expected behaviour? It’s not a surprise to me, as they took a similar quick decision when they announced the purchase and then closure of Podclear that I referred to earlier in this article. So perhaps that is the culture of the leadership and the investors in the organisation?
With Blab.im Closing The Actions You Need To Take Now
There are a lot of learnings from the rise and fall of Blab – if you are the owner or provider of a live stream platform you can contact me privately if you would like to know the learnings you can glean.
If you are someone who hosted live streams on Blab and have not downloaded your show archives, go back to your emails and look for the notifications you received from Blab that you replay was available and download them as soon as you can as it is unlikely that access will be available for much longer.
If you have written an article about Blab that you have on ‘replay’ in your social media manager about Blab, take the time to delete it and perhaps even update your previous articles about the platform.
If you are an organisation or entrepreneur using live stream platforms, just make sure that you always have backups of your replays.
And I personally would think VERY hard about what live streams you embed on your site and what platform you use to do so. I am relieved that I took the approach not to embed content from my Blab live streams directly into blog posts otherwise I know what I would be doing for the next couple of weeks given we have been hosting the Live Stream Insiders for almost a year – re-editing those articles would not be a fun way to spend my time!
In the meantime, I will have to decide which app takes the place of Blab on my most frequently used social media apps screen on my iPhone!