YouTube is making a huge change to subscriber counts

24 May 2019, 12:56 | Updated: 24 May 2019, 13:01

James Charles Subscriber Count
James Charles Subscriber Count. Picture: YouTube: James Charles

By Rachel Finn

This could change a lot.

Big changes are set to happen at YouTube over the next few months in terms of how they display channel subscriber counts.

In a recent blog, it’s been explained that starting in August 2019 full subscriber counts will no longer be publicly displayed and instead we’ll see an abbreviated version of the full count.

Although creators on the site will be able to see their exact subscriber count, it won’t be publicly displayed and everyone who has over 1000 subscribers on the site will see their subscriber count shortened on a sliding scale.

So, for example: If a channel has 4,227 subscribers, the public subscriber count will read “4.2k” until the channel reaches 4,300. If a channel has 133,017 subscribers, the public subscriber count will read “133K” until the channel reaches 134,000. If a channel has 51,389,232, the public subscriber count will read “51M” until the channel reaches 52,000,000.

So, why is YouTube doing this?


YouTube’s official explanation is that it wants to “create more consistency everywhere that we publicly display subscriber counts” as the site’s subscriber counts are currently displayed in a variety of ways in different places across YouTube desktop and mobile apps.

But some are speculating there’s more to the decision, especially considering how often YouTube subscriber counts and battles between some of its most popular YouTubers have been making headlines lately.

In the fallout of the Tati Westbrook/James Charles drama over the past few days Tati’s subscribers shot up by 4 million after she posted a video accusing him of a number of bad behaviours, leaving James’ subscribers to plummet by 3 million. Then after James posted his own video in response, he gained a million followers back, leaving Tati to lose over 340k. It was news that spread far, far outside the YouTube beauty community, with many people following live-feeds of the rise and fall in subscribers numbers to their channels.

So it seems like YouTube is keen to stress that it wants the site to be about bringing great content to fans, rather than about minute-to-minute fluctuations in subscribers. The change will probably mean less open competition between YouTubers in terms of how many subscribers they have, but will it have any change on the kind of videos they make? We’ll have to wait a few months to find out for sure.