Blippi, an immensely popular YouTube children’s entertainer, announced a live US tour on Tuesday. Yet it has since been revealed that Stevin John, the man who plays Blippi, won't be appearing on stage. Instead, another actor will play the role of Blippi, an adult man in an orange bowtie who loves learning about fire trucks and tractors.
Parents around the country are outraged since many were duped into buying tickets before they had a chance to read the fine print on the Blippi Live website, where it says that John will be MIA. “I’m livid,” said Dana Oliver, who spent $400 on three sixth row tickets as well as two meet and greet tickets to see the show in Toronto. “I’m trying to get a refund.”
Blippi has been incredibly successful on YouTube with videos that visit playgrounds, children’s museums, farms, and zoos. Many parents have welcomed the educational alternative to the endless onslaught of trashy videos on the social media site. John, the man behind Blippi, has made millions on his creation. An estimate from analytics firm Social Blade says he is making between $100,000 and $1.6 million per month in YouTube ads alone. John, who owns a production facility in Las Vegas, also has a line of Blippi merchandise sold on his site and Amazon, including costumes, shirts, dolls, even a line of sneakers in his blue and orange.
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It's a bird, it's a tractor…it's BLIPPI LIVE! Pre-sale tickets on sale today using the code: BLUE Come along on a surprise trip as Blippi tours North America for the first time ever to sing, dance and learn with YOU! Visit www.blippilive.com to purchase tickets. Woooooo!! @blippilive
When the live tour was announced Tuesday on the official Blippi Facebook page, it did not mention that Blippi would be played by another actor. "I won't be on the road, but I am obviously extremely involved with the whole process," John told Billboard. "Blippi is as a character and I'm the creative force behind it, but since YouTube is a monster and all of these platforms are really crazy, I can't go on the road for many weeks or months at a time."
Stephen Shaw, the producer and promoter of the Blippi Live show, told BuzzFeed News, "We felt we made the announcement abundantly clear in the Billboard Exclusive Announcement that Stevin would not be going on tour and playing the role of Blippi in the live stage show." He added that they will send a letter to ticket holders letting them know that Stevin John won’t be appearing and offering a refund. Ticket prices range from $26 to $70 on Ticketmaster and a “meet and greet” after the show costs an additional $40 to $51, depending on the city.
“I didn’t find out until 5 seconds after I submitted my payment and Ticketmaster refused to refund me,” said Angelina Sakowski, who spent $126 on tickets to the New Jersey show. “Ticketmaster didn’t seem to have any info about it being an actor on their website. The info is buried on the bottom of the FAQ page on Blippi’s website.”
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The new Blippi Books 📚 are in @barnesandnoble stores!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “Blippi: Things That Go!” & “Blippi: Let’s See Animals!” You will find them in BN stores on the Picture Books Carousel. Both books are under $5! I’m so excited for you and your child to read these books together! Amazing work @studiofunbooks !
Ticketmaster has been vague about the event. On the page for the Daytona, Florida, meet and greet, there is a small disclaimer that says Blippi will be played by another actor. On the Ticketmaster pages for other cities, however, there is no disclaimer at all. Ticketmaster told BuzzFeed News that it would issue refunds upon request. Meanwhile, on the BlippiLive.com website, the information is included in one of 12 questions in a separate FAQ section.
“I called Ticketmaster and argued with them as they were equating it to Disney on Ice and him being a ‘character,’” said a mother who spent $460 on tickets and meet-and-greet packages for her family. “But I argued that he IS the character and it would be like the Wiggles touring with replacements!”