If you’ve been travelling around London for the past month or so, you’ve probably run into some YouTubers. Or at least, giant posters of them across buses and walls of the Underground; with a massive number of “Fans” ticking upwards alongside them. The #MadeForYou campaign has been celebrating the success of a diverse range of creators by putting one thing first and foremost – numbers.
It’s hard to deny that numbers like these are hugely defining for creators everywhere. So it’s coming as a shock to a lot of people that Pewdiepie – who with almost 50million “fans” is the most subscribed YouTuber in the world – is planning on deleting his channel after hitting the milestone.
After taking a step back from his daily video uploads, Felix returned with his own insights into the ongoing issue of creators’ massive drop in recent video views; as well as random drops in subscribers. And he concludes with a shocking statement; that when he reaches that 50 million subscriber mark on his channel, he will delete it.
Felix recounts some of the conversations he has been having with YouTube about his dwindling viewership (his videos now rarely surpass 2million views); and reveals that he has found the process “really discouraging”.
“I find that a lot of people that work with YouTube have no idea what it’s like to work on YouTube, as a content creator”, admits Felix. “As someone who’s built this for years and really cared about it.”
“It feels like a kick in the face when they make changes and don’t tell anyone about it.”
Since the upload of this video this week, the debate and investigation has raged on; with YouTube releasing a statement that has so far not set anyone’s mind at ease. And we’re still not likely to get any real answers anytime soon about what is going on with YouTube’s new algorithm. But if Pewds plans to commit to the promise he made in this video, even with any truth, or fix; it has the potential to change the face of YouTube as we know it.
Existing in a pre-Twitter or Instagram world, YouTube was arguably the first social media platform to quantify fame. Sites like MySpace required adding and accepting friends; but subscribing on YouTube is a one-way interaction. And for over ten years, subscriber numbers have been the defining metric of a creator’s worth on YouTube. It’s what brands look for when offering you deals; it’s what potential new subscribers use to decide if your videos are worth their time; and it’s what YouTube themselves base your worth on for enabling more and higher levels of support.
But when you’re gaining literally millions of subscribers every month, and only a tiny fraction of those people actually watch your videos – really, those numbers don’t mean a thing. They become merely an indicator of people who hypothetically like you enough to keep you around; but not enough to engage in every piece of content you make. And if the most subscribed creator in the world is willing to throw that title away, then how much value does it really have? What does it mean for everyone else? And most importantly, how will success on YouTube be defined in the future?
The abrupt end of Pewdiepie, the most successful and established channel on YouTube, will signal a turning point in its community and industry. Either there will be a newfound focus on views or engagement;inevitably resorting in aspiring creators using clickbait, drama… whatever it takes to be seen instead of known. Or there will be a dramatic reversal in the way that YouTube handles its content; and Subscriptions will once again have the value on the site that gave those numbers their value.
Your move, YouTube.