Review: Elite Dating App The League Brings Back Speed Dating With a Modern Twist

Go on three dates in six minutes — without leaving the house

League Live
Dating, but without actually going on a date.

I went on three dates last night and none of them involved leaving my apartment.

I accomplished this feat of introvert dreams everywhere thanks to League Live, a new video speed-dating feature from The League, the app that provides a highly curated, members-only space for a certain class of professionals who don’t have the time or patience to sift through the mounting garbage heap of prospects on Tinder and Bumble.

With League Live, the elite platform hopes to further optimize the experience for its community of presumably busy, high-powered professionals by setting them up on a series of three two-minute video dates with prospective matches. Interested users can opt in to League Live once a week on Sunday nights, and The League will select three matches based on each user’s preferences and past behavior on the app.

The goal, as League founder and CEO Amanda Bradford tells InsideHook, is to spare users the time and energy wasted on bad first dates by replicating that in-person experience in a micro-speed date that doesn’t require you to leave your apartment, make reservations or pay for drinks. “You’re going to stop having the terrible dates [with people] that you only needed two minutes to know you wouldn’t go on a second date with,” says Bradford. “And that saves all your first dates for people that you would spend more minutes with.”

As someone who’s been on many a lackluster date, I’ll readily agree that it’s often easy to tell whether or not there’s a spark by the time the first round of drinks has been ordered. League Live’s video chat format hopes to help users establish that spark (or lack thereof) more effectively than the text messaging that traditionally dominates dating-app communication.

“It just kind of moves you along a lot faster so you’re not wasting so much time,” says Bradford. “Our users’ biggest currency is their time, and they don’t want to spend their time on crappy dates.”

In many ways, League Live’s efficiency-minded approach and tech-forward video-chatting platform represent a hyper-modern — and arguably more cynical — form of dating. At the same time, the new feature emphasizes face-to-face communication and relies on a throwback speed-dating format, which suggests a return to an earlier, perhaps more personable era of dating. 

This blend of old- and new-school ideals may be contributing to the feature’s surprising popularity among The League’s older demographic. While Bradford and her team were prepared for older users of the pre-FaceTime generation to be less inclined toward video chatting, the opportunity for face-to-face conversation has proven particularly popular among the 30+ crowd. When the feature launched earlier this month, Bradford says, just under half the participants were in their 30s, with higher-than-expected engagement from users in their 40s and 50s as well. 

While League Live is a first-of-its-kind feature among dating apps, The League isn’t the only platform trying to reconcile dating ideals old and new in an attempt to breathe some life back into the increasingly sterile swiping space that has taken over the modern dating landscape. Like UpDating, the live dating show putting real people on blind dates in front of live audiences, or new dating app RLOVE’s “soul-signature” based matches, League Live wants to help users forge more authentic connections in the digital age. 

For The League, the efficiency of modern dating doesn’t have to come at the price of that authenticity. “I always say that dating is like a funnel, just like buying a house or getting a job or anything like that,” says Bradford. “It is love and sparks and butterflies, but also you’re wasting all your time on the top of the funnel.” With League Live, says Bradford, users can get further down the funnel, where the sparks really begin to fly. 

Sparks or not, League Live is more or less a can’t-lose situation for the swipe-weary. Worst case scenario, you lose six minutes of your life and possibly save yourself from three future bad dates. If nothing else, going on three dates without leaving the apartment is a huge win in and of itself, and definitely a better use of your Sunday night than getting sucked into hours of idle Tinder swiping. 

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