You are not supposed to be meeting anyone right now, especially not for bumping uglies. Given the current CDC guidelines regarding social distancing practices, dating on the apps is pretty much — or should be — stalled for the next few months, restricted only to some fun chats. Well, except for Growlr users.
Today, the app known for its large base of users in the bear community, announced that will launch an in-app live video broadcasting feature. The company had previously alluded to the feature when the were bought by The Meet Group last year.
“Since the outbreak, we’ve seen explosive, overnight growth of our other live video platforms, MeetMe, LOVOO, Skout and Tagged," Geoff Cook, The Meet Group CEO, said in a release. "For example, in just the last week we saw a 33% increase in time spent in video and a 38% increase in video chats per day compared to the week before." The feature will launch on Growlr within the next two weeks.
In addition, within the next three to four weeks, the company will launch private one-on-one video chat as a free feature. This had previously only been available as a premium tool.
Here, we talk to Cook about how the past year has been, the new features, and whether or not the app will improve with communication to customers.
You guys have owned the app for just over a year now, have there been any other consumer facing changes before this?
Most of the work we've done has been to onboard a new team — it was previously really a one or two man shop — and in building this video platform, as well.
We actually had planned for this to be probably four months from now. But with the impact of the virus on dating and the fact that social distancing is so important, we fast tracked basically all of our video plans across the across the company. That included in the case of Growlr launching live video broadcast, basically ASAP. Also, and this wasn't even one of our plans, we are launching one on one video on Growlr. Tight now, one on one video is a premium feature and we're soon going to be making that free.
This is a feature that we have seen very successful on our other dating apps, and we have four other dating app. We have more than 1 million video users day across the other apps, and we feel like this will be a great addition for Growlr.
From my understanding the live feature is sort of like Instagram live where you can stream to alot of people watching and maybe have one other person, right?
Yes, broadcast video. So you can be the broadcaster and you could have a guest box where someone else who is part of your stream, and then other people are watching. We've launched a "Next Date" dating game that we will be bringing to Growlr shortly that is played inside of this experience. So people basically queue up to engage in like these mini dates with the streamer and then the streamer gets to choose next or date on each one of them. If they date, they actually they open up various, you know permissions in the app, one on one capabilities and so forth.That will soon also include kind of what we're calling Blind Date, where during the course of this mini date, the video stream is actually blurred out. With this, you can basically connect with someone without necessarily knowing what they look like for the first minute or so. As the date goes on, they become increasingly unblurred until you can see what the look like.
When you guys first announced the purchase of the app I think we discussed this live streaming you mentioned that there a pretty standard content guidelines like with any livestreaming on Facebook and Instagram. Is that still true?
Yes, our livestreaming moderation policies and standards will be similar. There will be some like this moderation that changes around the edges for Growlr but the essence of it is to moderate for to keep it clean; PG or PG-13. These are broadcast live streams but as it relates to one-on-one streams. Those are generally unmoderated unless someone is complaining about the other party in the stream.
Have you guys learned anything in particular about this market having owned the app for just over a year that's different from other markets?
We learned that this is a very committed, market,. People very much take pride in the Growlr community and they find connections there. Every change has to be carefully messaged. Also, maybe because the pace of change on Growlr has historically been less, the Growlr community is just not accustomed to having a new feature or a new build every two weeks.
I think it'll be interesting to see how people react to to live video from from those terms. But I think because everyone understands kind of the world is a different spot. I think the broadcast video will be interesting, and I think the one on one video will be welcome given that it's taking a paid feature and making it free.
You guys just got acquired right? Do you expect any changes to come along with that?
We signed a deal. It's not close yet so we're still independent but we expect it to close in the second half of the year. But no, the new owners fully bought into our strategy with respect to video enabling dating properties. I expect all the brands to continue as they had, including Growlr.
A few weeks ago you guys had an incident where a lot of users couldn't log in. Though you've handled that, I recall it sort of highlighted a lack of public-facing communication for the company. Will there be a change to that moving forward particularly around the app's social media presence?
Yeah, I think it's critical to communicate. I think in that particular situation a message to the community was sent out the morning after or the next afternoon, but you know, I hear you and we do believe communication is critical. We are, I think, going to improve our ability to message users and let them know what is coming and doing it all in a timely manner. I think that's important across all of our apps. But you know, especially important I think for Growlr.