Monday, June 19, 2017

Why LiveCoding (now LiveEdu) failed

7 comments

Inception

For those who don't know livecoding.tv first started as a live streaming platform for software development (think of it as twitch for programmers). Initially, I was really excited about this idea and I have even been streaming on the site for 111 hours gathering approximately 100 followers. I wasn't the best streamer, my mic was bad, I seldom talked but the projects I showed were interesting to create and watch.

No one was earning money at the beginning (not streamers, nor livecoding), but if I recall correctly they soon added a "recruiter" plan which might have lead to some earnings for the platform. 

Time to make money!

So far so good, the community was growing, more and more streamers came to the site (even though they weren't earning anything) and viewers were interested in this idea.

It then all went downhill.

They soon added a "PRO" plan so that streamers could stream "premium content" that only PRO users could watch. It was good on paper, but they made two big mistakes:
  • The price of $25/mo was way too high in my opinion and they were referring to it as a "no-brainer". 
  • The percentage that the streamers got from those $25 was not that great. It was zero. This is where probably a lot of streamers (even though they were not earning anything until then) felt used as they were the ones providing the content but they were not receiving anything in exchange.
I recommend reading this discussion in the comment section where they announced the PRO plan. The main issue that I see in their attitude is that they thought it was fine to put themselves above the streamers. Deciding that a source of income is needed while ignoring the content creators was justified by saying "don't worry, we will care about you in the future!".

Why pivot if it's going well?

After they reduced the PRO plan to $9.99 and genuinely seemed interested about the streamers, they made the bold move of rebranding livecoding.tv to liveedu.tv. If you ask me, this is by far the biggest mistake they made. I don't know their reasoning, but it was probably related to making the platform more general, an educational platform not necessarily for coding. They seem to try turning the platform more into a directory of premium videos (udemy?). If that's the case, why keep the live in the name? 

The name livecoding was actually a good website name: memorable, easy to pronounce, easy to write and it was accurately describing what the site was about.

Current issues

I will name a few issues that really stop me from using or recommending liveedu.tv anymore, but first let's see how friendly is it for new users.

I tried today accessing liveedu.tv to see if it's worth going back.  I clicked to watch the stream featured on the homepage.


Most users leave when they see this, but I added the site to the ad-blocker exceptions. 


If I were a new user I might have left immediately not wanting to waste time creating a new account. Luckily I was an old user so I logged into my existing account (well, it wasn't that easy, because they changed their domain and my password manager did not autofill my credentials and I had to go search for it).
After I logged in I got the same screen as above but saying "SOMETHING WENT WRONG",  message which seems to show on some streams.

Now, a list of other issues that just makes me wonder how a good idea turned out so bad:
  • The interface is a mess. The site is very "jumpy", meaning that the entire layout is recalculated several times during page load as some elements are dynamically added but without having their space allocated beforehand. They are still updating it, but it seems to be for the worse. For example, I let you judge the way white space is used in the new chat section...

  • You can't really watch content if you are not a PRO member. There are 15s ads before starting to watch any stream and too many banners, sections and pages asking you to go "PRO".
  • At the time of writing this post, there are only 4 streamers online and I can't even get to load two of them.
  • Twitch now has a programming community.

Conclusion

I have only described the bad parts that I see, feel and felt from my perspective, the perspective of a streamer and occasional viewer. Let me know if you think I have been to harsh judging this site , site behind which is probably an amazing team of developers.

In conclusion, for me LiveEdu.tv is a platform that is too bulky, difficult to use and lacks enough good content to be worth using. I really wanted to see again and interact with the old spirit of LiveCoding.tv, a lean platform on which both the viewer and streamer are respected, but that spirit seems to have been stolen by the Greed Monster.

PS: LiveEdu might actually be a success and their premium projects directory might have a bigger community than I expect, but I have not yet had any contact with that side of the platform.

Later edit (20 June): LiveEdu just released a blog post introducing the new subscriber plans AND limiting the amount of content you can watch for free. I don't understand why they keep focusing on pricing instead of the content.

Date: 19 June 2017

7 comments:

  1. I agree completely. With the move to liveedu they did a slight layout change that really ruined the experience. Theater mode was something I used a lot to get the stream be chat window oriented in the browser window nicely. Now I have to scroll down to use the chat. I've never seen any premium content, but I've seen the free content from some of the premium users and nothing against them, but I find it hard to believe that their premium content is much different than the free content those users were offering before, which is not worth cold hard cash. I don't mind the ads, for me that's the best way to monetize a platform like livecoding, but liveedu is not livecoding in name or spirit.

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  2. Agree on this article too.

    "I really wanted to see again and interact with the old spirit of LiveCoding.tv, a lean platform on which both the viewer and streamer are respected, but that spirit seems to have been stolen by the Greed Monster." - enough said :)

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  3. Know alot of people who have moved to twitch because of reasons above. It sure is a shame better ways of making money.

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  4. Livecoding looked so promising, I enjoyed casually tuning in and was looking forward to the future (increasing user base, mobile app, etc).

    Then they broadened it, redesigning it (wtf is with the whitespace in the chat). They have been far too aggressive in monetisation and unfortunately there are now far fewer users streaming at any one time.

    I think they should've taken it more slowly and ought to have become the Twitch of programmers while they had a good chance.

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  5. Now that random people can't just watch my videos without paying for membership, I'm not streaming on my website anymore.
    I never wanted to make money there, I just wanted to stream programming for fun. The way they're forcing for premium membership is absolutely terrible.

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  6. I also used to stream a year ago on this platform. It was really enjoyable. Now they are forcing you to pay for a subscription to view more then 3 hours of video a month. I know you have to make money somehow. But they way you are doing it now is not gonna work out.

    I also noticed that you show streamers online but they aren't streaming at all. Making the the visitors think the site is busy. The fact that you need to do that show how far this platform went down.

    PS: To get rid of the adblock message add this filter @@||liveedu.tv/static/js/ads.js to ublock origin or adblock plus.



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  7. I've been streaming there since they started, and like you said, it used to have a lot more viewers than now, which is a shame.

    Since I was one of the best C++ streamers around, they asked me to create some Premium Content, which I did for a while.
    The share you get for premium content is based on view time, so I was expecting to build up some long tail income and grow it slowly over time.
    But doesn't work. The number of viewers is so low, that you can't build any passive income at all.

    I kept going for two months, and overall I was getting about 3-4$ per INVESTED hour, which is really low, but I had hopes it would be passive income over time.
    I took the decision to halt streaming and focus on some personal projects, and as I expected, no income at all after that.
    So it looks like committing to creating Premium content, with rigid times and days is not worth it.
    They should have built a bigger community before trying to monetize it.

    Sometimes I take a peek at the number of live streams and viewers, and it's disappointing. :(

    They have an indiegogo coming up in a few days, but doesn't inspire much confidence. The pledges are in short, just monthly subscriptions.
    It feels its just a last attempt to raise awareness and generate some income.

    My feeling is they are going down if the IndieGoGo campaign doesn't work.
    Or they get funds from somewhere else.

    Makes me sad, but I could see how this would end from miles away. Just like you did. :(

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