YouTube Says They Can't Find A Subscription Glitch, But Something Doesn't Add Up


Yesterday, YouTube Help published a video countering widespread claims by YouTubers that the platform is screwing them over. In an explainer that can only be described as 3:27 minutes of "actually," YouTube reps claim that the streaming platform is not unsubscribing people from channels, an accusation hundreds of YouTubers have full-throatedly complained about for weeks.

In the video, YouTube says "YouTube doesn't unsubscribe people from channels." Two reps say YouTube "looked at over 100 individual cases and haven't been able to find an underlying glitch." Several of the video's explanations echo language relayed to me by YouTube press contacts.

For the past few months, YouTubers have been pointing out critical fluctuations in their subscriber counts. Huge channels like PewDiePie, JackSepticEye, h3h3Productions, DramaAlert, Boogie2988 and hundreds of smaller channels posted videos relaying fans' complaints that they were randomly unsubscribed from their channels, or didn't see the YouTubers' videos in their subscriber feed.

Ethan Klein of h3h3Productions accused YouTube of "not being honest" when a representative told him nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Others have accused the platform of lying. On November 30th, JackSepticEye called YouTube a "broken fuckin' website." A week later, he told me that his contact at YouTube and a YouTube analytics representative spoke with him personally about issues he'd faced. In a follow-up video, he added that "I don't like that YouTube just trying to focus on their bigger creators and trying to appease them."

In an email to me two weeks ago, YouTube insisted that nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

The YouTube video, which comes off a little condescending, says that closed and spam accounts don't count toward subscriber numbers. But YouTube isn't unsubscribing spam accounts. Accounts that YouTube has flagged as bots are still getting videos in their subs feed. And those videos appear in the subs feed, on average, 30 seconds after they're posted. This line of reasoning, commenters allege, evades the question of why meat-based humans widely report being automatically unsubscribed or not seeing videos from their favourite content creators.

YouTube directs them to the app's feedback button. Comments under the new video are scathing:

YouTubers have directly forwarded me several messages from their subscribers alleging they have been unsubscribed. They have also forwarded charts describing wildly erratic changes in subscriber counts. The evidence is out there that something is up — and even if something isn't up, YouTube should be able to explain to its content creators why their channels are suffering.


    This should be referred to as a developing story, like the voice actor's strike or the new hardware launches.

    That this video now exists shows there's potential for a larger wedge to be driven between Youtubers and the site itself.

    If enough of them band together, and offer themselves up as a ready-made package for another player in that space to poach (let's say, Netflix, for argument's sake), then the potential for that market to be tapped into by someone other than Youtube would absolutely sky-rocket.

      To be honest, I'm kind of hoping that's what happens (except maybe not to a paid service like Netflix). A proper alternative to YouTube would be great but it needs to have the content people want on it.
      Would anyone here follow their favourite YouTubers over to another platform if they did that?

        I would, the people I like to watch are great and if all I had to do to support them was to type in a different URL - then win :)

        Of course, we don't like them because they are Youtubers

        I really really dislike YouTube, especially with this huge push to youtube red. However I don't think I'd follow much away from youtube without the app support we currently enjoy. if it's not on my Xbox / PC / phone / etc, it just wont get a look in.

      The problem is that Youtube has been around for a long time. The website works quite well, it streams well, easy to upload etc. It's been fine tuned by Google, the biggest tech company, for over a decade.

    Well there you go. Vladimir Putin watches YouTube so obviously he's hacking the American accounts and removing subscribers. **Raises Anti-Poe shield**

    Er you cut off Mr Fruit's point, just posting the quote he was referencing.

    Has any of these youtubers shown any analytics to support "critical" fluctuations in subscriber numbers. I mean aren't subscriber numbers regularly fluctuating?

    Surely there needs to be some statistical analysis to prove that one channel's fluctuations over the course of a year or more is surprising compared to others or to projects they have modelled from a previous year....

      The number of channels I'm subscribed to lately has definitely dropped, however those channels have not closed down, they're still there.

        And the number I've subscribed hasn't changed at all, hence the call for a statistical analysis.

        Right now, Youtube is saying, they've done the analysis and nothing is wrong (and of course they'd say that...) but at least they've described a more thorough analytical method...

          Same, nothing wrong on my end. I have my youtube channels on feedly as well and it's all the same for me, nothing unsubscribed.

          And with the number of API / Apps people are using nowadays, who knows if it's not one of these fucking up instead.

            I've seen major drops in the last two months from this bs. Losing 20 subscribers daily and going from an average of 5k-7k views a day down to 1k-2k. It's a total mess.

    What amazes me (and what isn't being said) in this whole affair is that in Television especially audiences generally decline over time

    Look at any show you can think of - most shows peak in the second or third season (I'm talking about audience, not quality) and then you see a steady drop off followed by a precipitous drop late in the show's run

    What amazes me is that these YouTubers somehow think that they're immune to this phenomenon

    I don't watch the same YouTubers I watched two years ago - with the possible exception of AVGN - everything falls out of favour eventually

      How dare you not watch channel awesome and Nostalgia Critic!!!!

      Honestly, I think I have been unsuited from theradbrad, but I kind of stopped liking and watching his videos

        I only watched theradbrad when he would do all those trials evolution videos so I could see all the novel courses - the rest of his channel is just bland let's play stuff - I unsubbed his channel on purpose!

        Nostalgia Critic will always have my sub for his brilliant Ghost Dad video but most of his recent topics have been uninteresting

      They don't think they're immune to it. Most of the major channels suffering from this have been around long enough to see rises and falls in popularity. This is something different. It's not just YouTuber's who have picked up on this. There are a lot of people out there complaining that they're being unsubscribed from channels or that content isn't appearing in their subscription feed.

      Think about it, if this were natural attrition it would have to be an incredible coincidence to be occurring on all these channels at the same time across all genres. If it were simply people being sick of YouTube then we wouldn't see drops in subscriber counts because people generally don't unsubscribe before leaving.

      Except it isnt that. Fans themselves have been telling these channels that they have found themselve suddenly unsubsribed for no reason at all. It is happening as these channels are describing it.

      I myself was unsubscribed from a couple of channels i watch very regularly.

      Last edited 16/12/16 10:09 pm

    I've been unsubscribed from a couple of channels.

    As far as I know I haven't been unsubbed form any channels but some vids definitely don't appear in my feed. Was wondering why one of my favorite YouTubers was a bit late posting the next vid in a series, randomly checked his channel and it had been up for hours. Discovered a few other vids there that had never shown up too.

    I first thought the vid hadn't published properly but the amount of views/comments was about right for how long the vid had been out.

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