Youtube the drama continues. This is nothing new, however. When you are the largest video sharing site on the planet and have fostered an environment and culture where individuals are encouraged to speak up on issues ranging from the pithy to the embarrassing to the mundane, you are bound to receive a lot of criticism (both positive and negative) at the slightest hint of a perceived change or cause for concern. What makes this drama different from others, however (unlike YouTube drama), is that it directly affects the livelihoods and dollar figures in checks received from YouTube by creators large and small.
All YouTube creators by genre, size, and prolificacy are seeing significant subscriber losses and viewing drops on recent videos of up to 30% or 40%, and sometimes even 50% or more. Ethan Klein of h3h3productions gave voice to the issue many of his peers are facing last week through an eight minute and five second video, in which he explains how many of his subscribers complain about not receiving his videos or having somehow was mysteriously unsubscribed from his channel. Klein also says it’s “time for YouTube to be upfront with us and tell us what’s going on.”
It’s a sentiment shared by many other creators. Since the h3h3productions video, a cavalcade of prominent YouTube personalities and up-and-coming creators have been voicing their concerns and giving their thoughts on WTF.
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Here is JackSepticEye (the insanely popular Irish gamer with over 13 million subscribers) on the YouTube changes he’s seen and how the site apparently rewards a type of clickbaity content with the potential for massive engagements:
Here is Alpharad (a gamer with nearly 300,000 subscribers) and a Vanity (a German player with nearly 30,000 subscribers) on the sub-complaints they received from fans:
— uX VaniTy 🌐 (@JustVNTY) December 1, 2016
Here is another game channel, theDeModcracy (with roughly 100,000 subscribers) on his drop in views over the past month:
Here is a general frustration of Arden Rose (a beauty, fashion and lifestyle star with over 1.4 million subscribers), as well as concerns about her own subscriptions.
So like… when will there be a better video sharing website than YouTube? Because I’m sick of their crap algorithm and service.
—Arden Rose (@ardenrose) November 30, 2016
Is anyone else unsubscribed from the youtubers you watch? I noticed a bunch of my favorites were gone and replaced by channels I never captioned https://t.co/Z1AusJzdxq
—Arden Rose (@ardenrose) December 1, 2016
Here are a few more, bringing a bit of levity (kind true, a bit sad) to the situation:
Every YouTuber who bought a lambo is starting to sweat now – pewdiepie (@pewdiepie) November 30, 2016
— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) November 30, 2016
Here is SwankyBox (a “video game analysis, nostalgia, and creative motivation” channel that has roughly 100,000 subscribers) with an in-depth look at what the problem might be (including some thoughts on “negative speed”):
Countless other examples of lost subscribers and views and thoughts on how this happens can be found after a quick search on YouTube and/or Twitter. But one thing remains the same. No one is quite sure what is going on yet.
Here are some theories:
This is part of YouTube subscriber audits
YouTube is a massive site with over a billion users watching hundreds of millions of hours of video every day. It’s hard to keep track of all these users to make sure they’re real people and not just fake accounts meant to boost a channel’s metrics. Thus, YouTube regularly performs audits to remove inactive and spam accounts, which could explain the drop in the number of subscribers observed by certain channels.
FYI, these are the two cases to consider when it comes to “inactive accounts” as a YouTube rep explained:
- A closed account: this is an account that the user has deleted. This user no longer exists, so they no longer count towards your channel’s subscriber count.
- A spam account. This is an account that violates our TOS. We’ve flagged this account as spam, so we’re not counting it in your channel’s subscriber count.
The YouTube rep also explained that if you have a YouTube account in good standing, you won’t be automatically unsubscribed from any channel, even if you haven’t watched a video or interacted with that channel for an extended period of time.
This is part of YouTube Views Audits
For the same reasons stated above, YouTube also regularly checks views. So maybe that’s to blame for at least some of the losses some channels are seeing.
This is due to an increase in YouTube pre-rolls
We’re right in the middle of the fourth quarter, which is typically a time of year when advertisers dramatically increase their online video ad spend to entice people to buy their products during the holiday season.
This means ad inventory is in huge demand. And “when more advertising is present on YouTube, more pre-roll (skippable and non-skippable) is shown,” explained Matt Gielen, founder of “audience building agency” YouTube Little Monster Media Co. ” If throughout the year on average we see pre-roll fill of around 10% to 20%, at this time of year we see 30% and more. can reach 50%
So, perhaps an increased advertising load is to blame for some of the perceived losses.
Suggested YouTube videos are broken and/or something changed
As stated above, YouTube is a massive site with billions of users, millions of active creators, and thousands of individuals and businesses who call it their full-time job. It’s very difficult to get a glimpse of what may or may not happen on a macro, site-wide scale because each individual channel represents such a small portion of the platform’s overall audience.
On the contrary, it is very difficult to assess the situation if you are not PewDiePie, a channel with almost 50 million subscribers and hundreds of millions of views per month. With those kinds of stats, the PewDiePie channel can theoretically provide a more accurate assessment of what’s happening across YouTube as a whole. And luckily for everyone involved, the creator of PewDiePie Felix Kjellberg is more than willing to share at least some of its data analysis.
In his most recent upload, Kjellberg identifies what he thinks is the culprit. And these are video suggestions.
Kjellberg says that most creators get around 50% of their views on the platform from the Recommended Videos and Suggested Videos sections of the site, whether you’re a big channel or a small one. Thus, these two sources are extremely important to a creator’s total views. Kjellberg further explains that out of any video he uploaded to his channel prior to November 2016, that specific video would receive around 60% of his views from suggested videos. That percentage dropped on videos uploaded in November 2016, however, where his individual videos saw 0.7% and 0.2% of their views come from the suggested videos feature.
These are facts. And Kjellberg shows you the numbers on the screen. He then goes on to his theory as to why this is happening. Kjellberg thinks his new uploads don’t “qualify” as suggested videos and they’re losing that valuable real estate to other, more clickbait (and NSFW) types of programs. Check it out:
There has been no official update or response to Kjellberg’s theories, but he seems encouraged by the personal response he received from YouTube.
YouTube has responded and is digging into the issues.
—pewdiepie (@pewdiepie) December 5, 2016
If you have a YouTube channel and are experiencing issues similar to those described above (or not experiencing them at all), please let us know in the comments below. We’ll continue to follow the story as more news develops.