Dear Youtube Product people, your Live sucks for webinars

Every now and then, I need a reminder that if you’re not paying for something, you’re likely the product.

Today, I had the pleasure of getting that reminder from Google, through its more horrible product, Youtube Live / Hangout on Air as a webinar tool (credits to this article for the photo below).

Google Hangout On Air Webinar

Here’s the backstory

I was organizing a webinar with my team that was supposed to go live today. We had registrations, people were looking forward to our content. But we failed to go live because of a button that wouldn’t load in Hangouts on Air. We had tested the Live functionality thoroughly in the previous two days, with an internal test and a full dry run with all participants the day before. The morning of, scripts in hand, decks ready, we signed on and were ready to go. As we saw the clock strike 10am Pacific, the Hangouts On Air stayed, ironically, Off Air. No matter what we did to it, it wouldn’t go live. After more than 20 minutes of struggles, we abandoned and had to reschedule. Fail, thanks, Google!

Given that it is a free product, I’m going to provide some free feedback here for the product people responsible for this terribly designed functionality.

  • Why do you even need encoders for the live video stream? Isn’t the Hangouts functionality enough?
  • Why don’t you have a consistent experience when using Hangouts on Air? Sometimes you see the Go On Air Button, sometimes you don’t
  • Improve that FAQ section that has confusing references
  • When choosing quick vs custom, you should never see encoding details
  • Why doesn’t the webinar automatically go live at the selected event date? Did someone forgot to code that functionality?
  • If you are serious about this product, have you considered adding paid technical support for companies to use it as a business tool? I know it works for kids doing stupid stuff live from their living rooms, but others are tired of old, clunky interfaces from other webinar platforms and would gladly pay per use
  • You need a better integration with Google Docs / Slides / Sheets – presenting in full screen and seeing what’s going on in the webinar requires two people, due to the fact that the slides take up the whole screen and the Hangout on Air controls are not visible

Let me know if you had similar issues with the product, maybe we can start a petition or something to get their attention.