YouTube Announces Changes to Subscriber Count Display

Last week, YouTube announced via their Twitter account (@TeamYouTube) that they will be making changes to the way the subscriber count for channels are publicly displayed from August 2019. They linked to a YouTube Help Community post that outlined the details.

All public facing subscriber counts will be truncated to a uniform format:

  • counts under 1000 will display the full subscriber count;
  • from 1-100k, channels will display in this format – 4.6k;
  • from 100k-1 million channels will display to the thousand, ie. 134k;
  • from 1 million to 10 million, channels will display to one decimal place, ie. 4.2M
  • over 10 million, will just show to the nearest million.
YouTube provides a sample animation showing the changes.

YouTube says, “To create more consistency everywhere that we publicly display subscriber counts, starting in August 2019, we’ll begin showing the abbreviated subscriber number across all public YouTube surfaces… Creators will still be able to see their exact number of subscribers in YouTube Studio.”

Creators will continue to see their full subscriber count in their Creator Studio Dashboard.

My recent video talking about the announcement from Team YouTube

The reaction to the announcement has been mixed from creators and the YouTube community.

The Verge, in their article, posited a theory as to why YouTube is making this change, stating that they believe the reason is to curb recent sub count wars between T-Series and Pewdiepie, recent feuds between James Charles, Tati Westbrook and Jeffree Star, that resulted in sub count live feeds going out on live streams and other sites, using tools such as Social Blade. There has been a greater discussion about mental health and burn-out on the platform, and these sorts of competitive sub comparisons have led to concerns that they overly inflate the importance of the metric.

The other important matter coming out of the announcement is around the subscriber counts that will be provided via the YouTube API. YouTube states that, “Third parties that use YouTube’s API Services will also access the same public facing counts you see on YouTube.”

This has lead to speculation that sites like Social Blade will no longer be able to display publicly the accurate subscriber count in real time. That revelation as lead to a #SaveSocialBlade campaign lead by a number of YouTubers on Twitter, with the term trending late last week. Keemstar and others tweeted their dismay at some possible dire future for the company Social Blade. The company itself seems to be revelling in the publicity.

Many other creators though, don’t know what all the fuss is about. The majority of commenters on my recent video covering the announcement say they are happy with the change. One commenter noted, “I’m fine with this. Subscriber numbers don’t matter that much anyway.” Another said, “I’m pretty cool with that, neatens things up a little. :)”

The mystery though is why YouTube has really decided to make this change. In addition, they say in their post that this won’t take place until August. Why? Usually changes like this to the platform get a very short lead time, like a week or two. In this case, we have a 3 month heads up. Why? Only time will tell.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to join the discussion in the blog comments!

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